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Lady ‘Cats fall to Bears in senior day matchup

Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman and Emily Drake played their last game at the Dee Events Center for the Weber State University women’s basketball team on Mar. 2. Despite efficient efforts from both, WSU lost to Northern Colorado 75–61 on Senior Day.

Welch-Coleman puts up a layup as a defender moves to slap it away. Photo credit: Joshua Wineholt

Drake sits at 128 games played in a Wildcat uniform and Welch-Coleman is not far behind her at 126.

Both seniors have carried the team despite a tough season, as Welch-Coleman leads the team with an average of 17.2 points per game and Drake is second with 12.6.

“They are great, I love them,” said head coach Velaida Harris. “I personally, could not of got through this year with out them because of the work ethic, example and for their passion for this university and for the game. Both are great examples of how to become a successful collegiate basketball player.”

Forward Kayla Watkins, center, jumps for two as she is swarmed by defenders. Photo credit: Joshua Wineholt

Welch-Coleman led the team in the loss to the Bears with 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Drake ended the game with eight points, seven boards, and two steals. Both recorded 37 minutes in their final home game.

“We really battled,” Drake said. “We had a team that got really fired up. At half time we were up, we were excited in the locker room and ready to come out in the second to battle.”

Emily Drake, guard for the Wildcats, fights for a rebound between two defenders. Photo credit: Joshua Wineholt

The Wildcats were up by one at the half over the second place team in the Big Sky Conference standings, but the momentum shifted after the break.

Redshirt senior guard Savannah Smith led the Bears in scoring with 36 points, nearly half her team’s output. Northern Colorado outscored the ‘Cats, 47–29 in the second half.

“I need to give credit to Smith, she is a really tough player to guard,” mentioned Welch-Coleman. It takes a whole team to stop her. At the end of the day, it is just small lapses defensively that cost us the game. We were ok offensively but needed to step up defensively.”

Sophomore forward Kayla Watkins tried to keep her team in the contest, pouring in 17 points and five rebounds. She also played a team high 38 minutes.

“They all played hard,” Harris said. “The first half we were incredible in terms of our defense. It’s just a matter of us being young and being relentless. I think my kids are understanding that they will be better at it next year.”

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