In a season where the Weber State University Wildcats figure to face high expectations, the team started the season with a bang.
In their exhibition matchup against the Montana Western University Bulldogs, the Wildcats won with a final score of 74–67.
All eyes in the Big Sky Conference are on head coach Bethann Ord for the first time in her career at WSU.
During her first four years as the Wildcats’ head coach, Ord won a total of 20 games. Last season, however, the Wildcats won a franchise-record 23 games and qualified for the WBI Championship game.
“This year, we haven’t done anything. We’ve got so many young ones. We lost some really good leadership, but I’m really excited by the core that is back,” Ord said.
For Coach Ord, the core that returned came back prepared for this season. In the game itself, the scoring leader for the team was sophomore Emily Drake with 22 points. After Drake came junior Kailie Quinn with 16 points and senior Deeshyra Thomas with15 points.
As for rebounds, the team leader was Drake, who picked up 19.
“I think this game was really good,” Drake said. “Gets the jitters out, gets us together and sees what it’s like to be in a game-like situation for everybody.”
As for assists, both Drake and Thomas were tied with the lead, dishing out three assists each. While the game may not have counted toward their record for the season, it was the first game action for the Wildcats’ five freshman.
Both Dominique Williams and Gina O’Brien started the game alongside three of the team’s returning stars — Quinn, Drake and Thomas.
Williams played almost three full quarters for the Wildcats, while O’Brien played only 10 minutes in the game.
As for the other freshmen, Danielle Craft played six minutes, and Payton Whitmore added five minutes off the bench after not playing in the Purple and White Game.
The freshman star of the game was Zharia Hale, who made an impact offensively with eight points but showcased her talent the most on the defensive end where she picked up two blocks against the Bulldogs.
Even as a freshman, Hale demonstrated an eye for defensive as she picked up three steals — all of which came from swiping the ball in the open court.
“I know to get my team back and rolling I had to push myself on defense and getting the steals,” Hale said. “That’s the one thing that always came to me.”
Between the ’Cats swarming on defense and their consistent 3-point shooting, the Bulldogs were no match for the home team.
Despite being an exhibition game, it was the first opportunity for several of these players to play in a collegiate game in front of a crowd. And this change can mean serious emotions for rookies.
“When you start from nothing and come to something, it’s the best feeling in the world because everybody doubted you except you and the people around you,” Hale said.
The next game for the Weber State women’s basketball team will be their first official game of the season against Cal State San Bernardino on Nov. 11 at the Dee Events Center.