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The Weber State University women’s basketball team lost a close game on Thursday night to the University of North Dakota, by the score of 56-51.
This was the second-straight single-digit loss for the Wildcats, and their closest game of the season.
UND started the game on a 12-2 run over a four-minute span, as the Wildcats were forced into a few turnovers.
The Wildcats then increased the defensive intensity of the game, in turn forcing UND into some errors. But the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on those early turnovers, and UND continued to build on its lead. With five minutes left in the half, UND held the lead 26-11, its largest of the half.
The Wildcats responded late in the half with an 11-3 run, closing to within seven. The Wildcats trailed at the half, 29-22.
UND junior Megan Lauck led all scorers at the half with 10, and she also had four assists and three rebounds.
Freshman Kalie Matthews led all Wildcats with eight points and five rebounds. Freshman guard Desiree Ramos added five points for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats outscored UND in points in the paint, 12-8. The Wildcats were outscored on points off turnovers, 13-8.
The Wildcats came out playing tough down low to start the second half, even without freshman center Jalen Carpenter, who sat out much of the half with foul trouble.
UND and WSU traded baskets through much of the second half. The Wildcats pulled to within three with four minutes left off of a 3-pointer from senior guard Kia Rhodes.
“Kia really does a great job of being that team leader,” said head coach Bethann Ord. “And that’s what we’ve been looking for all season. For her to step up the way she has in the last two games, it has really helped the team. And with all the young ones, when you have that leader, it makes a huge difference.”
The Wildcats continued to trade buckets with UND, keeping the game close. With less than a minute to go, the Wildcats were within four.
For the second match in a row, the game came down to the away team’s ability to make free throws. UND made just one of its free throws, but the Wildcats were unable to hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, and UND ran out the clock.
Matthews led all scorers with 18 points, tying a career high. She also pulled down 11 rebounds. Rhodes added 11 points and two assists.
Lauck finished with 16 points for UND.
“I think we have gotten over that hump,” Matthews said. “There are just a few more little things that get away from us. I feel if we start out stronger and faster, then the game’s ours. We always have a better second half, but we need to start strong too.”
For the first time in several games, the Wildcats outscored an opponent in the paint. They held a 32-18 advantage in the paint, and also outscored UND 15-13 on points off turnovers.
“We’re right there,” Ord said. “I keep saying it. We are starting to execute, taking our time. Again, it was a great 40 minutes of basketball defensively. The task at hand next is Northern Colorado.”
The Wildcats will take on the University of Northern Colorado on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Dee Events Center.