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Pacific busts Weber State’s defense in 2nd half, Wildcat women take first loss at home

By Brett Hein - | Dec 21, 2021
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Weber State guard Kori Pentzer, center left, shoots a jumper as Pacific's Liz Elliott (14) contests on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
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Weber State's Emma Torbert, center, is fouled by Pacific's Erica Adams (20) as her teammate Madelene Ennis (33) contests on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
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Weber State women's basketball players lock arms before a game against Pacific on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.
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Weber State center Emma Torbert (23) smiles at teammate Kori Pentzer (4) during a game against Pacific on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

OGDEN — The Weber State women’s basketball team prides itself on defense and intends to win games that way — and has won games that way — this season.

So when visiting Pacific had just 24 points at halftime, it seemed the Wildcats had another win brewing.

But Liz had other ideas — two of them, actually, in Liz Smith and Liz Elliott — as the Tigers raced to 51 second-half points in a 75-62 win over Weber State to hand the Wildcats their first home loss of the season.

Weber State (5-6) led from tipoff all the way until the 2:37 mark of the third quarter when post player Elliott was in the middle of a personal tear. She scored nine straight points for the Tigers, including a bucket-and-foul conversion for a 38-37 lead, then an offensive rebound putback for a 40-39 lead.

WSU forward Jadyn Matthews answered with her own rebound putback score to put the Wildcats up 41-40 with 1:21 left in the third, and that was the last time Weber State would hold the lead.

The Wildcats created tons of good looks in the first half but only got out to a 27-24 halftime lead with usual starting forward Daryn Hickok unavailable for the contest. Head coach Velaida Harris said her team missed 25 shots at the rim during the game, and it seemed most came in the first half with a chance to push a larger margin.

“I felt like we were just a little bit under water,” Harris said. “I don’t think we were in the mentality to fight back in the way that we normally do. I think there was some frustration with not making layups, there was some frustration in communication, too — so we have to learn how to be resilient and get beyond that.”

Smith, a guard, started putting pressure on WSU’s defense with a number of drives where she got past her defender and into the paint.

Matthews scored on consecutive possessions and Emma Torbert converted a three-point play for a 7-0 WSU run that cut the score to 53-51 with 6:06 left in the fourth.

Smith then answered with a 3-pointer and scored her team’s next 10 points. She ultimately scored 17 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and Pacific (3-8) ran away with it.

“She was turning the corner on us and we made an adjustment that we didn’t handle well,” Harris said. “We didn’t clean it up the way we should have cleaned it up … you saw me just going player after player to do what we were trying to do, I went down three in a row because we had specifically talked about that at halftime.”

Elliott had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Smith shot 12 of 15 from the foul line.

Torbert led Weber State with 23 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Matthews added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Kori Pentzer scored 12 points and played all but 49 seconds of the game, holding Sam Ashby to five points in 35 minutes after Ashby scored 31 against UNLV on Saturday.

WSU forced Pacific into nine turnovers in the first quarter, including six steals, but only forced 10 more the rest of the way as the Tigers found better ways to attack.

The Wildcats hit the holiday break before the resumption of Big Sky Conference play by hosting three more at home: against Montana State (6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 30), Montana (1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1), and Idaho State (1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8).

WSU has five wins, which is already more than the last two seasons combined, and is 1-1 in conference play with a blowout win of Portland State and a final-minute loss at Northern Arizona.

“Despite what we showed out there tonight, we are a resilient team and I’m excited, I’m looking forward to the way we respond to our next opponent,” Matthews said. “We know this was a learning experience so when we come out on the court next time, it’s going to be a fight, it’s going to be showing that wasn’t a representation of who we are.”

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