OGDEN — Weber State women’s basketball was on record watch Thursday night, but not in a good way.
If not for a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers from Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman and Cyliest Smith, it would’ve been a night to forget but forever printed in the record book as the Wildcats lost 71-39 to UC Riverside at the Dee Events Center.
It was the 12th time in program history WSU (3-7) failed to reach 40 points in a game. After scoring 16 points in the first half, the all-time program low of 30 seemed in play. The Wildcats head to Big Sky Conference play licking their wounds with a fourth straight loss.
Head coach Velaida Harris said her team didn’t play with focus or energy to open the game.
“I think we were on vacation,” Harris said. “I don’t think our focus was really there.”
Riverside’s length was too much and Weber struggled to solve its defense for most of the game, especially early. The Highlanders were 5-foot-10 or taller across their starting five, disrupting passes and drives while forcing 15 turnovers. WSU shot 14 of 58 for the game (24 percent).
Keilanei Cooper finished 4 of 5 from deep for Riverside, hitting a pair of 3s during a 21-0 first-quarter run. That period ended at 26-6 and WSU couldn’t recover.
Tianna Eaton shot 3 of 5 from behind the arc and led all scorers with 18 points for Riverside, which shot 10 of 15 from 3 as a team.
Welch-Coleman led the Wildcats with 12 points. Dominique Williams pulled down nine rebounds.
In her first season at the helm, Harris is trying to build her young team for conference play. Injuries to starters Shianne Johnson and Kayla Watkins — who have since returned — have helped WSU improve its depth, which Harris says will help her team for the conference run.
“Kori (Pentzer) has grown tremendously. That’s a great piece for us because now we can have Emily (Drake), Shianne and Kori on the wings,” she said. “We’re not exhausting Drake out and she can shoot the ball better.”
Harris said Drake, a senior who has been one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, is shooting 25 percent from deep this season because she’s asked to guard the opponent’s best player on defense and the lack of depth has been tiring.
Harris said the team can most improve during conference play by understanding what kind of team it is.
“We’re a defensive-minded team,” she said. “Us understanding how we get wins ... everybody wants to score 17-20 a night, but we need to stop the other team from doing that. When we do that, we run and we’re ... better offensively.”
Weber State opens its Big Sky schedule with a pair of games at home. The Wildcats host Eastern Washington on Dec. 29 and Idaho on Dec. 31.