Weber State at Montana Women’s Basketball Preview

Weber State at Montana Women’s Basketball Preview

by Zachary Knecht

Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics

Weber State Montana Women’s Basketball Preview

The Weber State Wildcats continue their trip to Montana to face the Lady Grizzlies Saturday. The ‘Cats come in on a three-game skid but have played more competitive basketball as of late, while the Lady Grizzlies stumble in after a heartbreaking loss to Idaho State.

The Wildcats (5-19) sit at the bottom of the Big Sky (1-11), while Montana (12-12) is playing impressively, especially in conference play (8-5)

Previous Matchup

The previous battle between these teams was entertaining to watch, with a not-so-entertaining ending for Weber State. It was a back-and-forth contest that ended in a 67-64 overtime loss for the ‘Cats in the Dee Events Center. Trailing 26-22 at the half, Weber State made a strong push at home to send the game into the extra quarter, but they fell just short of pulling off the upset.

The Wildcats’ offense looked well-rounded on this January 12 matchup, with everyone getting in on the action. Despite some shooting struggles, four of their starters hit the double-digit mark for points while getting some support from the bench. Jadyn Matthews led the team with her 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, and Laura Taylor, Kaiija Lesane, and Daryn Hickok followed suit with a few productive nights.

Carmen Gfeller helped will the Lady Grizzlies to the overtime win. Her 24 points were the most efficient in the game, shooting eight of 15 from the field and hitting all six free throw attempts. Effective rebounding helped get Montana the W too, and Sammy Fatkin led her team in that category with 12.

Who to Watch

For Weber State, look for Hickok and Taylor. Hickok got the hot hand at Montana State Thursday, and – as the team’s leading scorer – much of this matchup rides on her ability to keep the Wildcats’ offense above water. The ‘Cats are ranked ninth in the Big Sky in offense in games against conference opponents (56.4 PPG), battling the second-ranked team in Montana (73.5 PPG), so they need to find any production to keep pace with this offensive juggernaut.

Taylor found production in their last duel against the Lady Grizzlies, hitting three of her nine three-point tries. She needs to find her rhythm against this Montana roster that is great at defending the outside, only allowing conference opponents to shoot 28.7% from range.

As they dominated in the last game against these teams, watch for Gfeller and Fatkin on Montana’s end of the court. Gfeller was the main contributor last time around, and this offense has gone through her all season, sporting 14.3 PPG against conference opponents. While another 24-point day may not be in the cards, she will surely make her impact felt.

Fatkin was a rebounding menace in the January game, and she looks to continue such play Saturday. She also aims to have a better day offensively, only grabbing six points in the previous duel. The senior guard averages 10.9 PPG against Big Sky opponents, so she strives to improve those numbers this time.

Road Improvement

The Wildcats need to improve their shooting efficiency. Both in their last game against the Lady Grizzlies and their Thursday night loss to Montana State, their lack of efficient shooting prevented them from doing any real damage offensively. It has been their number-one concern all year and why they are a bottom-feeding offense in the conference.

The ‘Cats also need to keep Montana away from the free-throw line. They allowed the Lady Grizzlies to get to the line a whopping 27 times last time while only getting to the line 13 times themselves. Montana’s offense can already beat you in a lot of ways, but giving them extra opportunities will prove detrimental to Weber State’s defense.

Game Time

The Wildcats head to the Dahlberg Arena Thursday to duel the Lady Grizzlies at 2 pm MST.


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