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From the tipoff on Thursday, the Weber State University women’s basketball team was determined to be the aggressor and set the tone for the whole game against Northern Arizona University. The Wildcats were ready to get their first conference win of the year, but in the end it was a tale of two halves. The Wildcats couldn’t overcome a tremendous second half by the Lumberjacks, losing 96-87.
The Wildcats had one of their best offensive performances in the loss. Four players scored in double figures, led by the double-double of Amanda Hughes, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
But that wasn’t enough to stop NAU’s Britney Frost, the Big Sky-leading scorer, who scored 21 points, with a majority of those coming in the second half. It could have been more if she hadn’t fouled out.
“If you look at the stats, we did everything to win tonight,” said WSU head coach Bethann Ord. “We out-rebounded them, we shot 50 percent from the three, and our free-throw percentage was high. You can’t keep going back and forth as a team like that. We couldn’t get the stops when we needed.”
In the first team minutes, it seemed as if the teams weren’t gong to miss any shots. Even when the Wildcats did miss their attempts, they were sure to get their offensive rebounds. WSU was able to dominate that glass, which gave it chances for second- and third-chance points.
It was the tandem of Hughes and Desiree Ramos that really fueled the team early on. Ramos first involved her teammates with a team-high six assists, then found her stroke from beyond the arc. After leading for a majority of the half, NAU took control from the Wildcats and went on a 12-0 run to regain the lead. But Ramos nailed two of her five first-half 3-pointers in the final five minutes to cut the lead to 44-42 at halftime.
“We were determined to get the win tonight; we were going to do everything in our power to get that done,” Hughes said. “But it’s too bad that we weren’t able to get it done tonight.”
As good as the Wildcats started the game, the second half could be considered a nightmare. It was NAU that came out throwing the punches. It seemed that whenever the Wildcats would commit a turnover, NAU would find a way to make that into an easy basket.
In a little less than 10 minutes, NAU had opened up a 20-point lead. But the Wildcats weren’t ready to give up, especially when Jalen Carpenter was on the floor. Just as Hughes and Ramos fueled WSU in the first half, Carpenter led the comeback charge in the second.
When her shot didn’t go in, Carpenter fought for the rebound and contested every shot on defense. The Wildcats’ defense pressure allowed them to get back in the game, as those turnovers led to better shots.
One of those shots, a 3-pointer by Ramos, her sixth of the evening, brought the Wildcats within six with two minutes to go, but NAU continued to execute on offense to put them away. It was another game where the Wildcats didn’t give up and battled to the end.
“I am so proud of my girls,” Ord said. “Every day they come to practice and works their tails off. They believe in each other and they believe in themselves. It is so easy for them to split apart with all they are going through, but they continue to build each other and continue to fight.”
The Wildcats will now travel to take on the Big Sky-leading University of North Dakota on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
The Wildcats also played a game on Saturday night. That game will be covered in the Wednesday edition of The Signpost and on www.wsusignpost.com.