Sacramento State at Weber State Women’s Basketball Preview

Sacramento State at Weber State Women’s Basketball Preview

by Zachary Knecht

Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics

Sacramento State Weber State Preview

The Weber State Wildcats host the Sacramento State Hornets Thursday night, with conference play nearing its end. With their loss on Saturday, Weber State’s losing streak extended to four, and they will be looking to put an end to it against a difficult conference foe.

The ‘Cats (5-20) look to get back in the win column at the Dee Events Center, their fate as last in the Big Sky essentially sealed with a loss (1-12); the Hornets (17-7) searching for a much-needed road win to keep themselves alive in the seeding battle of a competitive conference (8-5).

Previous Matchup 

The Hornets wiped the floor with Weber State in their previous duel, taking the contest at home 70-44. Falling behind 34-20 at the half, the game was put out of reach early for an underperforming Wildcat offense, letting the game slip further out of hand in the second half.

Kahlaijah Dean offensively carried Sacramento State with 31 points, shooting ten of 13 from the field, including an impressive six of seven from three. She topped off her scoring, hitting six of seven free throw attempts. Isnelle Natabou played Robin to Dean’s Batman, scoring 17, but her primary impact was her 18 rebounds. The talented center secured nine on offense and nine on defense.

Daryn Hickok was the only stand-out player for the Wildcats, securing 20 points on seven of 17 shooting, scoring nearly half of her team’s total. Laura Taylor was productive in her limited role, scoring six on her two-of-two from three.

Who to Watch

For Weber State, watch for Jadyn Matthews and Laura Taylor. Despite a down game on Saturday against Montana, Hickok is a consistent scorer for the ‘Cats, but Matthews has found herself on a slump as of late. The star forward has been one of the few bright sides for Weber State in the down season, and her bounce back can keep the Wildcats alive at home.

Taylor can help set the tone for Weber State’s offense against top-tier competition. The Hornets have had a difficult time defending the outside this year, allowing opponents to hit 33.9% of their shots from range. Taylor is the team’s sniper, and the Wildcats need to let her shoot as she did Saturday against the Lady Grizzlies. Though she struggled, only hitting two of eight from deep, giving her more opportunities is vital against Sacramento State.

For the Hornets, watch for the same duo that dismantled Weber State back at the end of January: Dean and Natabou. They have been at the helm of Sacramento State’s efforts, combining for 37.4 PPG. The two stars have also played an imperative role in the rebounding dominance their team has had in conference play. Against Big Sky opponents, the Hornets outrebound 37.1 to 28.4, giving their already potent offense more opportunities to score. Dean and Natabou combine for 14.6 of these rebounds, supplying life on both ends of the court.

Physical Play

The ‘Cats need to assert themselves against a physical team like Sacramento State. While the Hornets and Wildcats are fifth (37.1) and sixth (33.2) in the Big Sky in rebounding against conference opponents, Sacramento State is head-and-shoulders the top team in preventing opposing rebounds (28.4). With their 11.3 offensive rebounds per game, the Hornets have overpowered opponents this season, but Weber State will have to fight back in an anticipated physical matchup.

Establishing Rhythm

At home, the Wildcats need to find their groove early. Weber State is dead-last in the conference in field goal percentage, shooting a poor 34.5%, hosting the conference’s top team in field goal efficiency (46.3%). The ‘Cats need to step up defensively to contain Sacramento State’s scorching offense, so establishing their rhythm will pay dividends in the result. Notably, the Hornets have the third-worst defense against three-point shots in the Big Sky, so finding success from range will benefit Weber State’s offensive efforts greatly.

Game Time

The Wildcats host the Hornets on Thursday at 6 pm MST at the Dee Events Center, looking to find their second win in conference play.


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