Despite a tough start to the the year for the Weber State University women’s basketball squad, the team has a lot of fight, and it was on full display when the Wildcats welcomed Idaho State to the Dee Events Center on Dec. 31.
It was the first game of Weber and Idaho State’s home-and-home series of the year.
Weber State hung with the Bengals and only trailed by eight points going into the second half.
“It was competitive because we were defending them, and they were taking one shot and done for the most part in the first half,” Wildcat’s women’s Head Coach Valaida Harris said.
The Bengals pulled away in the second half and left Ogden with a 17-point victory of 77-60.
The Wildcats’ first points of the night came from sophomore forward Emma Torbert, who was playing in her second game for Weber State. Torbert finished the game with six points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Two of her points came from an impressive steal and euro-step layup, which would’ve elicited gasps from the Dee Events Center crowd, had the arena not been almost empty.
“It’s a matter of who we’re playing and how they’re going to defend her,” Harris said. “Our emphasis was getting the ball inside for this game. We didn’t shoot a ton of jumpers, and when we attacked, we go to the free throw line.”
Weber State went a perfect 17 of 17 from the charity stripe. The Wildcats clawed back, but fell behind in the second half.
The Wildcats defense was kicked into high gear. Aloma Solovi played hard nosed defense for all four quarters, pressuring the Bengals and forcing turnovers.
In the final seconds, she intercepted a Bengals pass for an easy quick layup.
“We made a team who doesn’t turn the ball over, We forced them into 23 turnovers, and that’s not what they do, so defensively, we were solid,” Harris said.
The Bengals had six players score in double figures, Estenfia Ors and Diaba Konate led the tiger-striped squad with 23 and 21 points.
The battle on the boards and turnover margin loomed large on New Years Eve in Ogden. Idaho State snagged 45 rebounds to the Wildcat’s 24.
“They had 18 offensive rebounds, and most of those came in the second half. If we had taken away half of their points off those, it becomes a five or six point game,” Harris said.
Two days later, the team battled hard again and trailed only by six points near halftime in Pocatello but fell 73—52. Kori Pentzer led the team in scoring with 14 points.
The Wildcats then trekked north to challenge Eastern Washington in a home stand for the Eagles.
Shooting proved to be a problem for the Wildcats, the team shot under 35% from the field and under 30% from beyond the arc in its two losses in Cheney.
But the team found a force in the pain in Emma Torbert who stuffed the stat sheet on the Reese Court hardwood.
In the first game, Torbert put up 15 points and eight rebounds.
Shianne Johnson and Kori Pentzer each scored 14 and led the Wildcats in the teams’ second game against the Eagles before falling 71—59.
The Wildcats are 0—4 in conference play and 0—7 overall on the year.
The team’s next challenge is when it heads south to battle the Thunderbirds in Cedar City.