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(Fernando Lopez/SUU News)

The Wildcats stepped onto the Dee Events Center court only a half a game shy of first place in the Big Sky Conference, ready to face a struggling Southern Utah University team.

Weber State University junior guard Emily Drake started the game off hot, shooting 50 percent for the field while scoring eight of the team’s 18 points in the first quarter. When the quarter ended, the Wildcats had a five point lead.

“I think we had good ball movement and we knew coming into the game that they really helped in the paint,” Drake said. “So we knew that getting kick outs and making extra passes was crucial.”

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(Fernando Lopez/SUU News)

As for the Thunderbirds, their catalyst was sophomore guard Skylee Doman, who was perfect from the field in the first quarter, going 3–3 with six points. Southern Utah found success driving to the hoop instead of settling for 3-pointers. The Thunderbirds scored 10 of their 13 first quarter points in the paint.

Freshman Shianne Johnson got the Wildcats offense rolling in the second quarter, scoring five quick points off the bench to extend the Wildcats lead and put them up 23–16.

Despite shooting just over 30 percent in the second quarter, Weber State worked their lead up to 10 points with 3:25 remaining in the half. However, Southern Utah found a way to cut the deficit down to three by the end of the half.

Southern Utah struggled to maintain possession in the first half, allowing 14 points off their 12 turnovers. When the second half began, the Wildcats continued their defensive pressure on the Thunderbirds.

Right out of the gate in the second half, the Wildcats took control of the tempo and got to playing fast paced basketball on both ends of the court. Southern Utah couldn’t seem to handle the pressure, giving up turnover after turnover, and only scoring 7 points in the third quarter.

“We attacked them defensively, forcing them into more turnovers, which gave us more offense,” head coach Bethann Ord said. “We put the pressure on them attacking offensively as well, driving to the basket and hitting threes late in the game.”

Senior Jocelyn Adams was a huge part of Weber State’s success in the game, owning the paint with 14 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4 blocks on the day.

The 65–50 win gives the Wildcats a 7–2 Big Sky Conference record, placing them even at the top with the University of Montana Grizzlies.

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