As the Weber State University women’s basketball team continued its push for its first conference tournament appearance since 2007, the Wildcats came up just short in their final home game of the season.
After losing to University of Montana by 10 points earlier this season the Wildcats were able to keep the game much closer but ultimately were unable to grab the win, falling to the Grizzlies 64-60.
“I was so proud of the way the girls came and fought for each other tonight,” said WSU head coach Bethann Ord. “We never faltered and we never backed down. It came down to the end tonight and we just didn’t get over that hump. You can see how hard the girls played and we left too much to chance tonight.”
Saturday marked the final home game for the Wildcats’ three seniors, center Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin, guard Carlee Lough and guard Brianna Averette. Averette was forced to watch the game from the bench though, as she suffered a torn ACL in the Wildcats’ loss to Northern Arizona University the week prior that ended her season.
Fittingly, the Wildcats’ seniors scored the first baskets of the game for the team on senior day, as Shahid-Martin pulled down a rebound and then made the easy jump shot for the team’s first points. Just over one minute later, Lough made a long three-pointer to make the score 7-5.
With just over 13 minutes before halftime, the Wildcats grabbed their first lead of the game on a jump shot from junior Tinisha Toussaint. WSU held the lead for almost six minutes before the Grizzlies regained the lead and Montana went on to hold a 33-28 lead going into halftime. Despite the Wildcats keeping the score within nine points, they were unable to regain the lead as conference-leader Montana improved to 12-3.
“There is a reason Montana is No. 1,” Ord said. “If you have one mistake they are going to capitalize on it and that’s what they did. We battled, but against a team like that you have to do more than battle.”
In their final home game, Lough and Shahid-Martin combined for 24 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in the loss.
“It does hurt to have this loss but it’s also great because we tightened things up,” Lough said. “We played so much better together tonight and it was a huge improvement compared to Thursday’s game against Montana State.”
Junior Jalen Carpenter had her eighth double-double of the season as she scored 11 points while pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. Carpenter also hit a milestone in the loss, as she became the first Wildcat since Kalie Matthews in 2013 to record 200 rebounds in a season. Carpenter also recorded her 72nd career block, passing Amanda Hughes and moving her into a tie for fourth place in team history with Joey O’Neill.
The Wildcats (11-15, 6-9 in conference) are currently sitting in ninth place in the Big Sky Conference. The team will finish its season on the road as they attempt to make it into the top eight places in the standings to make it into the conference tournament. Their next game will be at Idaho State (12-14, 7-8 conference) on Saturday.