The Weber State University women’s basketball team handed the University of Northern Colorado Bears their first loss in Big Sky Conference play, outlasting them 82–73.
The Wildcats picked up a win in their first home Big Sky Conference contest, which featured Senior guard Larryn Brooks finishing just shy of a new career high with 32 points, as well as Senior forward Briana Gray tying her career high with 16 of her own.
WSU has now extended their home winning streak to six games in a row.
“When we’re on all four cylinders, it can be scary. I’m just so proud because it really was just 40 minutes of Wildcat Weber State basketball. It was all about toughness,” said head coach Bethann Ord.
Brooks paced the Wildcats early with three points in the first minutes of the game knocking in an effortless two-point jump shot and adding a free throw. She downed a three-pointer seconds later.
The Wildcats traded shots with the Bears throughout the first quarter, but started to pull away early into the second.
“No time for defense!” yelled a vicious Wildcat fan base toward the Bears bench. Indeed, the Wildcats seemed to give Northern Colorado fits throughout the first half.
Gray provided a spark immediately after entering the game, driving into the paint and sinking a layup through defenders. She would add another free throw seconds later after picking up a foul on another drive to the basket. Gray kept her hot streak going on the next possession, adding a 3-pointer.
The Wildcats ended up with one of their most successful first halves of the season as they led Northern Colorado 40–32 at the break.
One of the biggest differences throughout the first half was three-point shooting, as Weber State shot 50 percent from behind the arc while UNC shot just above 18 percent.
Gray made the most of her minutes in the second half as well, swishing two jump shots within seconds of stepping onto the court. She has contributed valuable minutes off of the bench all season for the Wildcats.
“I’m just so happy for her because her leadership and what she brings to this program has been unbelievable. Her attitude, her effort; it’s just great to have it. She works so hard and all of them do,” Ord said.
The Bears played with much more intensity and aggressiveness in the second half by consistently pushing the ball up court and being, “grizzly,” on defense.
While the Bears were hesitant in the first half offensively, they scored more efficiently and saw many open looks from behind the three-point line.
Throughout the third quarter, UNC went on several scoring runs to bring the score to within two points. Despite the Bears’ best effort, WSU started the fourth quarter leading by five points at 63–58.
The Wildcats were clutch when it counted, shooting above 46 percent on six of 13 shots in the fourth quarter, as well as sinking five of six crucial free throws.
While the Bears did not go down without a fight, the Wildcats held on for the win. The purple palace proved to be too much for UNC, handing them their first conference loss and only their fourth loss overall.
Brooks provided her seventh performance of the season in which she scored at least four three-pointers. She ended with 32 points on 11 of 19 shots on the night, leading all Wildcats. This was her third consecutive game notching 20 points or more.
“My teammates and coaches having a lot of confidence in me, that’s the most important thing for me,” Brooks said. “Fans were hyping me up and I could hear everybody on the sideline, like ‘C’mon, we need you. So just having that confidence from everybody, you know? Everybody in this arena, it was awesome.”
Defensively, the ’Cats outrebounded Northern Colorado 36–33 on the night. Senior Jocelyn Adams ended with her sixth consecutive game high in rebounds, as she led Weber State with eight.
Weber State now moves to 11–4 on the season, with three wins to only one loss in Big Sky Conference play. Northern Colorado moves to 12–4, this game being their only blemish so far in conference play. The Wildcats remain in third place in the conference, while the Bears stand still at the top.