Less than 24 hours after its 23-point loss against Idaho on Jan. 29, Weber State University’s women’s basketball team took the floor to battle Idaho once again.

Weber States number 5, Jadyn Matthews, looks for a teammate to pass to. (WSU Athletics)
Weber State’s Jadyn Matthews, number 5, looks for a teammate to pass to. (WSU Athletics) Photo credit: WSU Athletics

With a final score of 74–62 on Jan. 30, the Vandals concluded their trip to Ogden with a two-game sweep of the Wildcats. Despite playing an improved, much closer game the second time around, the Wildcats were unable to defeat Idaho and notch their first mark in the win column this season.

The Wildcats started the game off looking like they were going to get their revenge, jumping out to an early 11-point first-quarter lead. Idaho countered the quick start from Weber by going on an 18–6 run and claiming a one-point lead in the game midway through the second quarter.

A key catalyst for Idaho’s quick comeback was the fact that Weber struggled to take care of the ball. Weber committed 11 first-half turnovers and Idaho scored 12 points off of those turnovers.

Despite the sudden switch in momentum, Weber was able to keep the game close because of its defensive effort.

“The difference between this game and last game was that we had a hand in their face every time they took a shot,” Wildcats head coach Velaida Harris said. “My message to them was to be competitive, be tough and then fight, fight, fight.”

That message translated into the play of the Wildcats defense, holding Idaho to just 26% shooting in the first half.

Idaho flipped a switch to begin the second half and jumped out to yet another 18–6 run that stretched over the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Ten of the 18 points in the run were scored by Idaho’s Gabi Harrington.

Weber State was able to trim the lead to eight with just over seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Idaho’s Beyonce Bea hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to stretch the lead to double digits and kill any remaining momentum the Wildcats had.

Bea finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists. The Wildcats were led by Jadyn Matthews, who recorded a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The difference in the game was the 3-point shoots made by Idaho, much like it was in the first meeting between the two teams. Idaho hit 10 threes while Weber State hit just two. Harris said that the size of the roster the Wildcats deploy made Idaho’s ability to stretch the floor difficult for her team to guard.

Despite the loss, Harris was pleased with the improved performance and competitiveness of her girls and said the short time between games probably benefited the team.

“It’s tough on the bodies, but it’s good in the sense of your mind,” Harris said, speaking on the turnaround. “You can see what didn’t work the night before and you can get that experience. You saw a difference in us this game compared to the night before.”

The pursuit of the first win of the season continues for the Wildcats, but Harris said if the team stays focused on the process rather than the outcome, the first win will come soon enough.

“When we’re disciplined, we always give ourselves a chance in the end, and that’s what we want,” Harris said. “We want to give ourselves that chance to win, so we can get over the top and get that ‘W’.”

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