Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
by Zachary Knecht
Weber State Idaho Preview
The Weber State Wildcats embark on their final road game of the season, facing the Idaho Vandals at the ICCU Arena. The Wildcats have not found any road wins in conference play, so they aim to take advantage of their last opportunity in Moscow.
The Wildcats (6-22) are locked into the tenth seed of the Big Sky (2-14), but the upcoming tournament offers a new start where anything can happen. The Vandals (12-15) still have a lot to play for, sitting at seventh in the conference (8-8), but having the potential to jump to fourth in the final deciding contests.
It was all Idaho in the opening battle between these rosters. The Vandals beat Weber State 66-52, snapping their six-game losing streak and sparking a second-half comeback on the season. Three-point shooting was the decisive factor in the contest. It was raining threes for Idaho throughout the game, sinking 12 of their 30 attempts. These shots were not so kind to the Wildcats, as they only hit 1-14. The lone conversion came from the hands of Laura Taylor.
Other than the poor shooting numbers, Weber State played a competitive game. Unfortunately, their lack of efficiency has been a sore topic throughout the year. Their inability to shoot well has sentenced them as the worst scoring offense in the conference (54.4 PPG), dropping games that would otherwise be competitive.
Ava Williams had a stand-out performance for the Wildcats, scoring 14 on seven of 10 shooting. Kaiija Lesane helped pave the way with her 10 rebounds but struggled to produce outside of that category with two points and one assist.
Sydney Gandy and Beyonce Bea stole the show for the Vandals. Gandy led in scoring, converting on five of her seven threes en route to 19 points. Bea made an impact in every way possible. She earned a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds, adding three assists, two steals, and two blocks to her line.
Who to Watch
Watch for Williams and Taylor for the Wildcats. Williams showed promising signs for Weber State in the late January battle against the Vandals but hasn’t been as productive recently. The Wildcats could use another scorer, as they’ve seen in Daryn Hickok’s absence, so her success could keep her team within striking distance.
Taylor has seen more time on the floor without Hickok running the offense but hasn’t broken through the way she would like. Weber State was held without a three-pointer in Thursday night’s game and held to one against the Vandals last month, so their sniper needs to make a difference Saturday. Taylor was a difference-maker in the win against Portland State with the three-ball, and this team could use her abilities to pull out a road victory.
Though Gandy got the better of Weber State previously, all eyes should be on Bea. Idaho’s star guard averages 22.2 PPG and 8.4 RPG on the season and has been the heart and soul of the Vandals. She can easily take over the game, so the Wildcats need to limit her production.
Shoot Your Shot
Weber State, despite its record, has always had the capability of being competitive against its conference foes. Lack of shooting has constantly been in the way of that, though. They are far and away the worst in the conference in field goal percentage (34.6%) and will continue to struggle if they can’t find more consistency. The regular season didn’t treat them so kindly, but they are in the Big Sky Tournament no matter what. It’s never too late to turn it around before getting a fresh start in March.
The Wildcats head to the ICCU Arena to duel the Vandals at 8 p.m. MT.
Stay up-to-date on the latest in Weber State Basketball here at The Hive Sports, and follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.