OGDEN — After picking up its first conference win Thursday at Northern Colorado, Weber State women’s basketball returned to the Dee Events Center to host Sacramento State, the second-best scoring team in the Big Sky.
For two quarters, it looked like the Wildcats might keep up. But a disastrous third quarter spelled WSU’s doom and the Hornets ran away with a 91-67 decision Saturday afternoon.
Sacramento State (3-11, 1-4 Big Sky) won a back-and-forth first half, outscoring the Wildcats 57-48 thanks to an 8-of-19 mark from the 3-point line.
The walls came in on Weber State (3-11, 1-4) when Sac State cranked up its defensive efforts, meanwhile attacking the paint and getting to the free-throw line.
The Wildcats turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter — 26 in the game — and shot 5 of 21 from the floor. Camariah King hit a 3-pointer and Summer Menke hit four free throws in a 14-2 run to end the third for the visitors, giving Sac State full control at 80-60.
The Hornets shot 8 of 10 from the charity stripe in the decisive third with their aggressive, spread-out play, while WSU didn’t get to the line to help alleviate its cold shooting.
“We tried to play the game how they play the game. This is what they do,” WSU head coach Velaida Harris said. “We do run but when we don’t have an advantage, we have to pull the ball out and run our offense ... and we didn’t guard the way we were supposed to guard.
“We got too worried about their 3s, we didn’t have help defense, we didn’t have backside, we did not stay disciplined ... we just got caught up in the up-and-down of the track meet and they’re going to win that track meet.”
King led all scorers with 23 points for a Sac State team that put five players in double figures. Utah native Milee Enger scored 12 points for the Hornets.
Weber State matched Sac State’s runs through the first half, cutting it to 44-40 after Daryn Hickock got free throws and a layup in transition. But 3-pointers from King and Enger beat the ‘Cats back and pushed the Hornets to a 52-42 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter.
Kayla Watkins led Weber State with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists from her forward spot. Hickock finished with 12 points, Kori Pentzer added 10 points and eight rebounds, and Ula Chamberlin added 10 points.
WSU’s lineups illustrated its building process: its nine-player rotation featured four freshmen and three sophomores. With 15 games left in the regular season, Harris says her team is improving, with one caveat.
“(Improvement) depends on the night. I just need consistency ... and it also has to come from my older players,” she said. “I put that challenge on my sophomores and juniors to be as consistent as they can be because the young ones are following them.”
Senior Dominique Williams (shattered finger) and junior Shianne Johnson (ankle) are each out for the season due to complications in recovery after surgeries last spring.
Salt Lake City native and junior college transfer Aloma Solovi is also out for the season. All three are expected to regain the lost season of eligibility through medical hardship waivers.
“That hurts us, but it does allow our younger players to get better,” Harris said.
The Weber State women have two more games in a three-game homestand, hosting Idaho State on Thursday, Jan. 16, and Portland State on Monday, Jan. 20.