by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Eastern Washington Preview
The Weber State Wildcats begin their final road trip of the season against the Eastern Washington Eagles Thursday. The ‘Cats are coming off their second conference win, looking to grab one win on the road in their last couple of opportunities.
Though Weber State (6-21) have had a rough time coming by conference wins (2-13), they found success against the Eagles (15-10) in their home appearance. Eastern Washington hasn’t recovered well from the loss, going 2-3 after a 6-3 start in the Big Sky (8-7). The recent skid has kept them out of contention for the conference’s top seeds.
The Wildcats took the first battle against the Eagles 68-65, stunning Eastern Washington in their first conference win of the season. Despite trailing as late as 5:42 in the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats went on a 10-0 run late to solidify their win at the Dee Events Center. Weber State contained Eastern Washington’s fourth-ranked Big Sky defense, while their offense produced more effectively than they have most of this season (55.9 PPG).
Jadyn Matthews and Laura Taylor were the offensive beneficiaries at home, combining for 26 points in the contest. Matthews was a serviceable four of ten from the field, thriving at the free-throw line with her five of seven shooting. The star forward’s impact wasn’t only in creating her own points but dishing out four assists with for rebounds to go with it. Taylor was efficient all game, hitting four of seven from the field, including two of four from the three-point line. She secured two steals to help on the defensive end.
The Eagles had four players hit the double-digit mark for points, but Aaliyah Alexander was the most effective in the contest. Alexander’s 16 points were a game-high, snagging seven rebounds to keep her team alive until the end. Jaydia Martin followed behind with 12 points but wasn’t incredibly efficient from the field on her three-of-eight shooting. Her perfect six-of-six free throws helped make up for her zero of three from range.
Who to Watch
If Daryn Hickok is back on the court, watch for her to add some juice to Weber State’s offense. While the ‘Cats were able to grab a win without her on the court, this offense has missed her presence. They have held down the fort in her absence, hoping to hit a better stride in her return as the team’s leader in points per game (15.5).
Weber State’s other star Matthews has started to flourish in the late season. Saturday’s victory was a prime example of her ability to take over the floor, scoring 21 on nine of 15 shooting. She also achieved a double-double with 11 rebounds. A repeat performance could give the ‘Cats a season sweep of their conference opponent despite their season struggles.
For the Eagles, a better outing by Martin is needed to get past Weber State’s defense. Though the Wildcats allow 67.9 PPG, ranked seventh in the conference, their shooting percentages allowed are impressive. Weber State ranks fourth in the Big Sky, giving up 40.5% from the field and 32.3% from three. These ‘Cats will make you miss, so a poor shooting performance by their top scorer may spell doom for the struggling Eagles.
Back for the Sweep
Weber State needs to tune into what made its last battle against Eastern Washington successful. They shot well from the field (49%) and three (66.7%), asserting their will on the court by outrebounding the Eagles 35-25. They passed the ball effectively, garnering 16 assists in the contest. The Wildcats turned the ball over a lot, though, which can only hurt their offensive production Thursday. Their 20 turnovers nearly lost them the game, so they need to clean up their game at Reese Court. While it is a long shot to ask for such efficiency again, they aim to replicate what worked at home.
The ‘Cats will head to Reese Court to face the Eagles at 7 pm MST Thursday in their final road trip of the season.
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