A stout defense brought the women’s basketball team to a 82-65 win over the Chico State Wildcats Friday night at The Swamp, giving the Gators their first win over the reigning CCAA champions in six years.
The Gators kept tight coverage on the Wildcats in their first conference matchup, managing six blocked shots and 13 steals. The stingy defense held the opposition to just 39 percent from the field and 15 percent from the three.
“We get our momentum when we play good defense,” said guard Angela Van Sickel. “We have a scout and practice their plays, that really helped us out because we knew their plays so they couldn’t run anything on us.”
SF State’s strategy coming into the game was to smother the Wildcats’ top scorers, Hannah Womack, Courtney Hamilton and Jazmine Miller. The Gator defense controlled Womack’s offensive play from the start; four quick fouls confined the guard to the bench for most of the game. Womack managed seven points.
The Gators used the second half to close in on Chico State, limiting the Wildcat offense to just 30 additional points to cap a final 17 point lead.
“The second half, we basically said, we have to give up less points that we gave up in the first half, which we did,” said head coach Joaquin Wallace. “We had good ball pressure, getting in the passing lanes and understanding what they want to do offensively. They scored 65 points, but at the same time we were able to get out with them and run as well.”
Van Sickel lead the Gators’ offensive campaign with a team-high 24 points on the game and 6-10 at the three. Guard Katie Batlin kept up the offensive pace with 21 points of her own and connected two three-pointers on five attempts. The team showed improvement from the three-point line overall scoring 50 percent of its tries, a couple notches above its 34 percent season average.
“We passed the ball well,” said point guard Jennifer Le. “But Angela shot lights out.”
The team was also able to add onto its lead connecting 13-16 at the free throw line. Accuracy at the charity stripe is one area Coach Wallace and his players aimed to improve this season.
The Gators are now 1-0 in conference play and 4-2 overall.