After a week of intense practice, knowing they were three starters down and going up against the No. 2 team in the National California Collegiate Association conference, the Sonoma State University Seawolves gave it their all.
Unfortunately, all their effort and determination just couldn't overcome sloppy first-half play against the Broncos of Cal Poly Pomona on Friday night at the Wolves’ Den.
“We weren't that bad, we just played a really bad first half,” said Coach Fuscaldo. “If you look at it, we out-played them in every part except for turnovers. We out-shot them, made more free-throws, got to the line and out-rebounded them.”
The Sonoma State Seawolves played a tough game against a tough opponent. They scored the first two points of the game thanks to Andy Mitchell and his free-throws. Yet, turnovers and missed shots in the first half would lead to Cal Poly Pomona’s success and an early eight-point run, and a lead they took into half time.
“We had our chances, but we just made two really bad turnovers and those have been a characteristic of our starting demise,” said Fuscaldo.
Although they were down a majority of the game, the Seawolves refused to give up.
“We didn't shy away from things,” said Assistant Coach Natalie Wisdom. “Guys got on the floor, they worked the ball inside and out, tried to get extra touches on the ball, crashed hard and just took care of the little things.”
When discussing the toughest challenges the Seawolves would have to face in Friday’s night game, coach Wisdom said, “Keeping Pomona in front of us on defense and limiting the turnovers that go into the baskets. I mean, it’s hard when you take a big offensive threat (James Davis) off the floor, because guys have to find ways to adjust.”
“They probably have the best defensive team in the nation,” said Khalid Johnson, when reminiscing about the difficulties they had when trying to get to the basket.
The halftime score illuminated Johnson’s point, as they were down 35-16. Johnson gave insight into the Seawolves’ thoughts once the buzzer for the second half had rung.
“Our main focus was to limit our turnovers, play more defense and start moving the ball more,” said Johnson.
Which definitely showed in the second half. The Seawolves managed to focus on their game and rack up some points and outscore the Broncos by eight points.
While they adjusted well and put up a fight that ended up 11 points short, Fuscaldo was still really proud of the game they played.
“We have to take the good, learn from the bad; that’s our goal,” said Wisdom, at the end of the game.
Even though she and her team lost, they won’t let it stop them from believing in a new day when they faced UC San Diego the next night in the Wolves’ Den.
A game of evenly matched opponents is what the crowd at the Wolves’ Den saw on Saturday night between the Seawolves and San Diego Tritons. It was a breath-holding game until the very last second.
Although the Seawolves didn’t come out as victors, they played their best until those last mere seconds ran out. Even when David Ahern was left sitting on the sidelines injured, Khalid Johnson stepped up to take his place with 12 seconds to go. Yet, UC San Diego was given three chances to shoot from the free-throw line, giving them their final points to win the game with a score of 50-46.
J.J. Mina started the Seawolves off with a four-point lead. While the Tritons fought to catch up with their free-throw shooting, the end of the first half had the Tritons leading 18-17.
The Tritons had seven offensive rebounds and had three of them in the last three minutes, which was filled with nothing but nail-biting moments. With the win in sight for either team, it came down to second-chance opportunities.
It wasn’t until the last nine seconds that the Tritons had their chance to win. A technical foul was made, giving UC San Diego guard Aleks Lipovic a chance at the free-throw line, earning the Tritons two more points. This was then followed by another foul by Sonoma State, allowing the Tritons another chance at the free-throw line, making it four shots, which they were able to make to seal the win for the Tritons.
When discussing what was most difficult to overcome in Saturday night’s game, No. 3 Johnson said, “All the injuries we had, two of our starters were hurt.”
Johnson was subbed in for fellow teammate Ahern. Many starters as well as leaders were out with injuries.
Associate Head Coach Rich Shayewitz told the team that as long as they stay together and make sure that they are doing things as a unit, and do everything they can to make sure they play together, it would keep the boys in the game.
“We outplayed them in every sense of the word, except for the two offensive rebounds at the end and when the game was on the line, we just didn’t play our best,” said Fuscaldo. “We just have to bounce back.”
Their chance to bounce back and turn things around is on Friday in the Wolves’ Den when they host rival Chico State.