by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Portland State Preview
The Wildcats are back on the road as Weber State looks to snap their nine-game losing streak at Portland State against the Vikings. The ‘Cats come into play 4-13 and sport an 0-5 conference record; the 7-8 Vikings have also struggled in the Big Sky with their 2-3 record.
A win on Thursday could result in many firsts for Weber State. It would be their first win in conference play and their first on the road this season, dropping their first eight games this year away from the Dee Events Center.
Who to Watch
For both teams, look out for their top two scoring options. Daryn Hickok and Jadyn Matthews have been reliable all season for the Wildcats. Hickock has the team-high in points on the season with 17.4, and Matthews is the number two scorer with 13.5 PPG. Their 30.9 combined points are enough to edge out the Viking one-two punch of Esmeralda Morales and Jada Lewis.
Morales and Lewis combine for 28.5 points per contest and are more than capable of going against a team’s top options. Morales really has compiled an impressive resume in 2022-23. The star Viking guard has shot 49.5% from the field and an unreal 48.9% from three en route to her 17 PPG. It’ll take a great defensive effort from Weber State to slow her down.
Outside of these duos, watch out for Laura Taylor. The Vikings’ defense is impressive, especially against the three-ball, keeping opponents to 29.5% from beyond the arch. Look for Taylor to find a rhythm as Weber State’s most potent threat from deep. If she gets the hot hand, it can be the difference for the Wildcats.
In all likelihood, this match is looking to be a lower-scoring, defensive duel. Both rosters have solid scoring options but are on the lower end of points per game. The Vikings and Wildcats are eighth and ninth in the Big Sky in scoring, respectively, with Portland State scoring 62.7 PPG to Weber State’s 60.2 PPG.
Defensively, the Vikings also have the edge. Their 60.4 points allowed per game is good for third in the Big Sky, while the Wildcats’ 68.2 is seventh in the conference. Both defenses struggled in their last games though, allowing 75+ points to conference opponents. They will each be looking for a rebound game Thursday.
Give and Take
With the Wildcats’ latest streak of improved turnover differential, they have a great shot at winning the rebounding and turnover war against the Vikings. The ‘Cats outrebound Portland State 37.5 to 32.1 but lose the turnover battle 19.3 to 15.2. Aggressive play will benefit Weber State defensively, while a more conservative approach on offense would help temper mistakes.
The Wildcats will head to Portland State, hoping to get back in the win column at 7 pm MST Thursday.