The Weber State Wildcats women’s basketball team won a hard fought overtime battle against The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 95-88 on Saturday at the Dee Events Center. This was the third overtime game for the Wildcats this season.
Northern Arizona took control of the game early, shooting well over 50 percent for the entire game. The Lumberjacks guard Kaleigh Paplow set a new scoring high for the Big Sky Conference this season with 36 points on 13-16 shooting and 14 rebounds.
Her freshman classmate center, Alyssa Rader, leads the Big Sky with 12 double doubles this season. Rader finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds. However, the team effort of Weber State made the difference in the outcome of the game.
The Wildcats had six players in double figures. Deeshyra Thomas lead Weber State with 23 points and 7 steals. “Whenever we’re faced with adversity we’re really good at coming together and just getting things done. We focus on the little things and if we play together, then we make things happen regardless,” Thomas said.
Weber State’s defense put tremendous pressure on Northern Arizona all night. The wildcats had 37 points coming from the 28 turnovers they forced.
“The turnovers were huge, we had (put) a lot of pressure in the back court due to the half-court post presence of Northern Arizona freshman center Alyssa Rader who has proven herself over and over again,” coach Ord said of the NAU defense. “We couldn’t let them continue to get us inside, so we had to get the defense going in the back court.”
Weber State was down 31-30 at halftime, but bounced back when sophomore guard Kailie Quinn set the tone for the second half with a long 3-pointer. She finished the game with 17 points, making 4-5 of her 3-point attempts.
The Wildcats also had great help from the freshman on Saturday. “They were really crucial, they stepped in and did a great job,” Bethann Ord said of her team’s performance. Yarden Danan reached a new career high with 15 points, while Emily Drake and Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman each recorded 11 points.
Weber State was ahead for most of the fourth quarter, but the Lumberjacks fought back with a 7-2 run. This brought the lead within one point with just under one minute left in the game. Guard Deeshyra Thomas missed two free-throws while seven seconds remained.
After the second miss, the Lumberjacks drove the length of the court and senior guard Mariah Willadsen threw in a game-tying layup at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
Senior guard Brittney Dunbar began overtime with a jump shot. She finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Weber State went on a 9-0 run with under two minutes left in the game, which led to their 95-88 win over the Lumberjacks.
Next week, the Wildcats are on the road and face the number one ranked team in the Big Sky Conference, Montana State.
“It starts with our game plan. Our coaches always put together a fantastic game plan, and if we stick to it, we’re always in good standings. This is the Big Sky Conference. It’s any body’s game on any night,” said Brittney Dunbar.
When asked about their road game, Bethann Ord said, “I’m excited. It’s going to be a true test on the road. Hopefully everyone steps up and, who knows, maybe somebody might be back for that game. You never know.”