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After upsetting the second-placed University of Montana Grizzlies on Thursday, the Weber State University women’s basketball team looked to extend its two-game winning streak to three on Saturday as it hosted the eighth-placed Montana State University Bobcats.
A late comeback fell short and the short-lived streak ended as the Bobcats held off the Wildcats with a score of 75-71. WSU guard Brianna Averette had 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including three of three from downtown.
“My coaches get on me enough about not catching and shooting the ball,” Averette said. “Every time I caught it and knew I was open, I would just shoot the ball.”
Ashley Brumwell of MSU led all scorers with 20 points and eight rebounds.
The game started out neck-and-neck, with 14 lead changes and eight ties in the first half alone. WSU led by as many as six points in the half after going on a 9-2 run over four minutes of play. But the Bobcats responded with a 7-0 run of their own to take a one-point lead with nine minutes to go in the half.
The Wildcats played tough defense and forced 10 turnovers in the half, getting 12 points as a result. But they had 14 turnovers themselves, also allowing for 12 points for MSU, offsetting their defensive efforts. That trend continued throughout the game.
“It’s difficult when you work so hard on defense to get a stop, and then you just bring it down and throw it away,” said WSU head coach Bethann Ord. “You can’t get any flow and it’s tough with everything.”
The game continued to be a tight one, but the Bobcats held a one-point edge going into the locker room with a score of 35-34, as MSU senior forward Ashley Brumwell beat the buzzer with a layup.
The second half followed in similar fashion. After trailing by three, the Wildcats went on another run, this time 10-3, to take a 46-42 lead with 14 minutes to go in the game.
Then, like clockwork, the Bobcats responded with yet another run, and it looked like this one was too much for the Wildcats to handle. The 21-9 run over 10 minutes was a result of WSU’s struggles on the defensive glass. In the game, the Bobcats had 21 offensive rebounds, out-rebounding the Wildcats 43-34.
“You can’t give teams second and third opportunities,” Ord said. “They did a really good job at attacking the basket, and we didn’t do the simple little things like boxing out, making contact and then going after the ball.”
But WSU wasn’t about to go out quietly. Down 58-67 with six minutes left to go in the game, WSU went on a 8-0 run to get right back in the mix, cutting MSU’s lead to one with just two minutes remaining in regulation.
Despite the comeback, the Wildcats couldn’t get over the hump and were unable to regain the lead after MSU made all of its free throws down the stretch.
MSU shot 42 percent from the field to WSU’s 39 percent.
“I think we didn’t come out with a sense of urgency like we did in the last two games,” Averette said. “We only played with a sense of urgency for about seven minutes.”
The loss put the Wildcats at a conference record of 2-14 with four games remaining in the season. With a playoff berth into the conference tournament out of the picture, the last-place team will look to at least get out of the basement of the Big Sky.
The task won’t be easy. The Wildcats trail by two games in the standings to the Portland State University Vikings, who will fight for their lives to get that last playoff seed. The teams will face off in Ogden on March 6.