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The Weber State University women’s basketball team returned to the court ready for the 2013-14 season by showcasing its talent in the annual Purple and White Game. The purple team captured the lead in the final minute to win the highly contested game 40-39.
The Wildcats are ready to build on last year’s winless season and rely on the experience the NCAA’s youngest team garnered. The team is returning every statistical leader from last year’s team. The Wildcats are hoping to build on the momentum they gained in the later parts of the season.
“I think every game we could have a new player step up,” said head coach Bethann Ord. “I am hoping all five of the starters can do that all at once. Everyone, and especially our two freshmen, have been doing that. I think we are going to have different people show up big. It could be a different leading scorer every night. Our chemistry is great and is getting better every day.”
Both teams came out of the gates slow, but the white team took control down in the paint and outscored the purple team 12-4, which contributed to the white team’s lead for most of the half. Sophomore Regina Okoye led off right where she ended last year by turning two steals into six points.
The purple team, after trailing at halftime, got a much-needed addition in sophomore Jalen Carpenter, who had scored four points for the white team in the first half. She led the comeback for her team as a stopper and a rebounder. She scored 10 of the team’s 25 points while pulling down three rebounds.
The team continues to grow every day, and showed that as the tempo and quality of play picked up in the second half. Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the second half.
“It felt good to get back there and show that I can shoot and do things,” Carpenter said. “I still have a lot to work and so does the team. But they are helping me get better. Just getting to play with them every day helps. It was good, but it was my team that helped me.”
Ord said she was equally impressed by how the team performed and knows the team is going to continue to develop. One of the many things she took away from the game was the shooting percentage.
“I thought the girls got up and down a little bit. We were able to see some good things,” Ord said. “I felt that we shot really well. Our percentage was really awesome.”
Another stellar performer of the game was freshman Elizabeth Mounier, who had seven points, all in the first half, while adding two assists. Zakiyyah Shaid-Martin, another newcomer via transfer, added another presence in the paint by putting up seven points and three rebounds.
But the returning players weren’t down and out either, as sophomore Kalie Mathews poured in eight points and five rebounds. The team chemistry was present even as the teams interchanged players.
“I play with my teammates every day. I am used to how they play and their personalities,” Carpenter said. “If I am playing with Tanisha, I know that she plays well on the block. It really is whoever I play with, I play and go hard with. Everyone has that main goal to win, and I am able to see that. There is no one that is slacking.”
The Wildcats will host Adams State College in an exhibition game on Oct. 31 and will open up their season Nov. 8 against Walla Walla University.