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Weber State basketball loses Big Sky tournament

Sara Staker
Weber State’s Men’s Basketball team in a huddle before playing.

Weber State University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled to Boise to play in the Big Sky Basketball tournament with hopes high and hearts set on the Big Sky title.

Women’s basketball
After finishing the regular season with an 8–24 overall record and a 4–14 Big Sky Conference record, Weber State’s women’s basketball team headed into the Big Sky Championship Tournament as the No. 9 seed. Heading to Boise, the Wildcats were matched with Portland State University in the opening round on March 9.

The tournament began with a stumble, as the Wildcats found themselves trailing the Bobcats in the first quarter with their only 4 points coming from free-throws. The Wildcats surged ahead during the second quarter and outscored the Vikings 26–6, heading into halftime with a 30–22 lead.

The Wildcats managed to maintain their lead through a closely-contested second half, narrowly outscoring the Vikings 32–31 and secured the first win of the tournament.

“It’s a big win for the program, and I’m really proud of our group and the way they bounced back after that first quarter,” head coach Jenteal Jackson said. “We’re happy to get the win, we’re feeling good, but we want the next one.”

Leading the Wildcats was Jadyn Matthews with 13 points and seven rebounds, Amelia Raidaveta with 14 points and five rebounds and Daryn Hickok with 11 points and eight rebounds.

After defeating Portland State, the Wildcats were matched with No. 1-seeded Eastern Washington University on March 10. Heading into the tournament the Eagles finished the regular season with a 27–5 overall record and a 16–2 Big Sky Conference record. Eastern Washington and Weber State faced off twice earlier this season with the Eagles coming out on top in both matchups and outscoring the Wildcats 130–92.

Despite Eastern Washington being high favorites, the Wildcats kept up with the fast-paced game Eastern plays. Heading into halftime both teams were evenly matched with both scoring 16 in the first period and 9 in the second.

In the second half the Wildcats kept shooting the ball and managed to have a 11-point lead over the Eagles after a deep 3-pointer from Jadyn Matthews. As the end of the game etched closer and closer, the Wildcats fell short of defeating the best team in the conference as Eastern Washington outscored Weber 24–12 in the fourth quarter and defeated the Wildcats 71–58.

“I learned from a young age that basketball is a game of runs,” Hickok said. “Just as easy as your team can make a run, it’s just as easy for the other team to make the same run; it’s important to maintain the same emotion and to have the same fire of emotions even if you’re up or down,” Wildcat forward Daryn Hickok said.

Men’s basketball
Meanwhile, Weber State’s men’s basketball team embarked on their own quest for glory, as they laced up to face Montana State University for the second year in a row in the first round on March 11.

Weber State finished the regular season with a 20–12 overall record and a 11–7 record in Big Sky Conference games. Montana State was heading into the tournament as back-to-back tournament champions and the fifth seed with a 15–17 overall record and a 9–9 conference record.

The Wildcats found themselves locked in a fierce battle against the Bobcats, as both teams traded blows throughout the first half. The Wildcats had a 34–25 lead over the Bobcats heading into halftime.

The Bobcats mounted a valiant comeback, and Weber State ultimately fell short 91–82 to Montana State. Succumbing to a barrage of three-pointers that shattered the Wildcats dreams of the Big Sky title. The Bobcats outscored the Wildcats 66–48 in the second half as Montana State hit a total of 13 3-pointers and shot 48% behind the arc.

“We kept saying that we needed to limit their 3s and limit their attempts and some of those they made were deep and over hands, at that point we got a little panicked on offense and tried to played a little too fast and they were able to get the separation,” head coach Eric Duft said.

Looking to the Future
Even though this basketball season came to a close with losses from both the men’s and women’s teams, next season will bring a brand new start to Wildcat basketball. Both Jackson and Duft will have new talent for both the men’s and women’s teams as freshman players make their way onto the court.

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About the Contributors
Collyn Cowles
Collyn Cowles, Sports editor
Sara Staker
Sara Staker, Photographer

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