Regular season play is wrapping up in basketball’s Big Sky Conference, and both the men’s and women’s teams of Weber State are looking to make a statement in the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
The women’s tournament will occur March 7-11 and the men’s team will play March 9-11.
Big Sky play for the men’s team was an intermission amongst their preseason play in December when Weber State hosted the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on Dec. 2 in a 67–44 win and another from Portland State on Dec. 4 in an 80–69 win.
Sitting at 9–0 overall and 2–0 in conference play, the Wildcats hit the road to play Washington State on Dec. 8 and were handed their first loss of the 2021-22 season.
With a loss on the books, the Wildcats headed back to the homestead and prepared for a four-game home stretch. The University of Maine at Fort Kent traveled to the Dee Events Center and was handed an 82–36 loss on Dec. 11.
On a fresh winning streak, the Wildcats looked toward the hardest stretch of their season in games against Utah State, BYU and Fresno State. The Aggies kicked off the Wildcats’ losing streak by beating them 95–80. BYU followed with the score 89–71 and Fresno State closed out the stretch with a 69–43 win over Weber State.
The loss to Fresno State closed out preseason play for the Wildcats. Weber State hit the road to take on Montana State on Dec. 30, handing the Bobcats a 85–75 loss.
To close out their Montana road trip, the ‘Cats fell to Montana 74–72 in a last-minute layup to kick off the new year on Jan. 1.
Weber State had a 12-day break before going back to the Dee Events Center, where they hosted the Idaho Vandals. WSU beat the Vandals 84–74 for their first home-game win of the new year.
The Wildcats collected wins from back-to-back games against the Idaho State Bengals on Jan. 17 and 20. Four days later, Weber State traveled down to Cedar City for the last time as they took on their long-time rivals the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. In dramatic fashion, the Wildcats beat the Thunderbirds 92–84 on Jan. 24.
Northern Colorado were the next victims of Weber State’s success on the road. The Bears fell to the ‘Cats 85–76 on Jan. 27. Following the win in Greeley, WSU headed to Sacramento State and beat the Hornets 79–59 on Jan. 29.
Back at the Dee, Weber State beat Eastern Washington and Montana before falling to Montana State on Feb. 5.
The loss against MSU started a losing streak for the ‘Cats as WSU fell to EWU and Idaho on the road.
Sitting on a three-game losing streak, Weber State looked to beat Sacrament State to turn things around. The Wildcats did just that by beating the Hornets 65–50.
The UNC Bears came back for revenge and the Wildcats fell to Northern Colorado 83–79 in overtime. Unable to catch a break, Weber State also fell to Portland State 81–75 on Feb. 24.
For the last road trip of the regular season, the Wildcats traveled down to Northern Arizona University to hand the Lumberjacks a 73–49 loss on Feb. 26.
This leaves Weber State with one final game at the Dee Events Center for the 2021-22 season. The Wildcats will host the Thunderbirds one last time on March 5.
Weber State currently sits at a 20–10 overall record and 13–6 record in conference. They are in third place in the Big Sky. Being third seed, the Wildcats will start the tournament by taking on the winner of the Eastern Washington and Idaho State matchup on March 10.
Wildcat players to look out for include Seikou Sisoho Jawara, Koby McEwen and Dillon Jones.
Sisoho Jawara is averaging 12.7 points per game and is shooting .434 from beyond the arch.
McEwen has been considered a contender for the Big Sky Player of the Year award, having a conference-high performance from the charity stripe against Montana on Feb. 3. In that game, he collected 19 points from the line. McEwen’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game.
Jones is leading the conference in rebounds, averaging 10.8 rebounds per game.
Despite a hot start to the season, Weber State’s women’s basketball team is in second to last place in the conference.
The Wildcats started the season off with a win over North Dakota. Before 2021 ended, the Wildcats had a 6–6 record and went 2–1 against in-conference opponents. Things started to change, however, at the beginning of 2022.
After a 28-point performance from forward Daryn Hickok led to a victory over Montana State, Weber State took down Montana on Jan. 1.
It seemed like the Wildcats were on the verge of a three-game winning streak during their matchup against Idaho State. With a 2-point lead, Hickok went to the foul line with 30 seconds left. Sinking both shots would’ve put the game out of reach. However, Hickok instead missed both, leaving the door open for Idaho State forward Montana Oltrogge to hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
Weber State’s win streak potential was gone and replaced with a six-game losing streak. The Wildcats lost by over 20 points in the following game against the Idaho Vandals.
Since Oltrogge’s shot, the Wildcats have only won three games, two of them being against Sacramento State and one against Portland State.
Despite their record, some Wildcats have had a phenomenal season as far as statistics show. Weber State’s three leading scorers are putting up leading numbers in the Big Sky conference.
Currently, Hickok is third in both points scored as well as average points per game. She is the only player in the top five in each of those categories to not have scored a 3-pointer all season. Hickok is also second in the conference in offensive rebounds and sixth in total rebounds.
Forward Jadyn Matthews is one of the top ten scorers in the Big Sky, but where she’s leading is in rebounds. She has defensive rebounds in the conference, leading by 1 and is second in total rebounds.
Currently, forward Emma Torbert is twelfth in the conference in scoring and eleventh in rebounding. Torbert is also third in both blocks and steals in the conference.
Weber State’s 6–13 in-conference record ranks only higher than the Portland State Viking’s 0–17 record. However, the Wildcats haven’t exactly been getting blown out.
Even factoring in the Idaho blowout, the Wildcat’s are only losing by an average margin of just over 8 points, and two of their games went into overtime.
Since coach Velaida Harris took over in 2018, the Wildcats are 2–4 in overtime situations. After their overtime loss against Southern Utah University, Harris said that the team wasn’t playing smart down the stretch.
The team is still working on finding a way to maintain a lead, as shown during their Feb. 23 matchup against Portland State where the Vikings tied the game in the fourth despite Weber State being up by 15 at one point. However, the Wildcats have been able to keep games close, which keeps them as a threat.
At the beginning of the season, Harris told The Signpost that Hickok and Torbert should both be all-conference players and that Matthews should average a double-double for the season.
Although close, no player on the team is averaging a double-double. Matthews is the closest, averaging 8.7 rebounds and 12.5 points per game. Hickok and Torbert have both had nights where they’ve scored over 28 points; however, no player on Weber State’s roster has won Big Sky conference player of the week this year.
The Wildcats will end their season in Cedar City against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. With a win there and an Eastern Washington loss, the Wildcats can jump up one spot in the conference before traveling to Boise for the tournament.