On Friday night in the Wolves’ Den, Sonoma State University did everything they could against CSU Chico’s Wildcats, but with a depleted team the Seawolves could only do so much.
The game started off with the Wildcats gaining possession of the ball, and junior forward Drew Kitchens making a three-pointer. The Seawolves failed in their first two possession attempts.
That is how Friday night’s game went. Sonoma State would have possession of the ball, set up their shots, but weren’t able to make much, coming up short. In the first half the Seawolves were only a mere couple of points away from either tying or taking the lead, but that all changed when the Wildcats converted turnovers and mistakes into 10 points.
Just like the first half, the second half wasn’t better. It was the “unfinished plays,” according to Assistant Coach Natalie Wisdom, that the Seawolves couldn’t make up any ground.
“I didn’t think we played that bad, but we had all of our players, as well,” said Wisdom as she compared the first time they played CSU Chico to Friday night’s game.
Indeed they did do better the first time they faced them. “We were hurt,” said Wisdom.
With Junior point guard David Ahern sitting on the sidelines with a broken nose from last weekend’s game against UC San Diego, as well as having James Davis, Mike Avery and Jabri Jenkins on the bench, wasn’t something the coaches had in mind when coming into the end of the season.
“They are leaders, so they are voices that used to be on the floor in practice,” said Wisdom.
Except, now they are voices on a bench, helping their teammates out from the sidelines. Unfortunately, that can only go so far.
“It causes roles to change and guys have to step up,” said Wisdom, “and players did step up in tonight’s game.”
One of those players was sophomore guard Topher Taylor. He was one among many players who had to adapt to the changes.
Toward the end of Friday night’s game Taylor would make a steal, giving Andy Mitchell the chance to score.
In the end, the Wildcat’s would be too much for the Seawolves. The fate of Friday night’s game was sealed at 80-43, Chico.
On Saturday night it was more than just another game; it was Senior Night. A night where the four Sonoma State Seawolves seniors (J.J. Mina, Mike Harris, Brandon Glanz and Zen Maki) would walk into the Wolves’ Den for one last home game.
Unfortunately, their last game at home didn’t go as planned. With a continuous battle between the Seawolves and the CSU Stanislaus Warriors, the men’s basketball team couldn’t find a solid rhythm.
As Sonoma started out with possession over the ball, it would be the Warriors who made the first basket of the night, thanks to senior guard Chris Read. With several chances at the net, the Seawolves would miss a majority of their shots, until J.J. Mina was able to find some opportunities, giving the Seawolves their first points.
With a little back-and-forth point battle between the two opponents, Andy Mitchell and Nathan Molony-Benjamin both took shots with nine minutes on the board to try and pull the Seawolves closer, with a score at the time of 8-20, neither could connect.
From then on, both participants went through a little bit of a rough shooting patch, when neither one of them could get their shots to go in. Mina would get fouled with a chance at the free-throw line changing the score to 20-10, Warriors.
The Seawolves continued to play hard and while there were plays and shots made by the Seawolves, the Warriors were the ones to walk in at halftime with a nine point lead and a score of 34-25.
“I addressed our mistakes and overcoming our obstacles. Let them know that in order for us to move forward, that we would have to take care of the ball better and execute better,” said Associate Head Coach Rich Shayewitz, “but most importantly instilled belief in them that we can do this.”
Once the players took to the court, the Seawolves began to play a much more rhythmic and organized ball game. With Khalid Johnson, Mina and Brandon Glanz starting the team off strong the Seawolves were only trailing behind by six points (39-33). It would be an edge-of-the-seat battle for the next 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Seawolves would begin to fall apart again, letting the Warriors take a 12-point lead (60-48) with seven minutes on the clock. Within those remaining seven minutes Zen Maki would hit a three-pointer and get fouled, converting his two free-throw shots. Following in his footsteps, his fellow teammates Mina, Ahern and Johnson would knock down shots and convert their foul shot attempts as well to bring the score to 66-60. Yet, it would be the free-throws made by CSU Stanislaus senior Wes Bartole and Seawolf junior Ahern’s last second lay-up at the final buzzer signaling the final score of 68-62, Warriors.
“Tonight’s biggest challenge was overcoming our own mistakes,” said Shayewitz in the aftermath of Saturday night’s game.
Those mistakes were noted as “turnovers, offensive rebounds miss-assignments and poor execution,” which are key points in a game that a team cannot afford to mess up. While the Seawolves did manage to get back up on their horse and fight for what was hopefully going to be theirs it wasn’t enough to come out with a win.
“We just knew that if we wanted any shot at the playoffs this was the last time to do it. The last 20 minutes to do it,” said Davis as he gave insight into what was running through their minds coming back out onto the court after halftime.
Since the loss of Saturday night’s game, the men’s basketball team doesn’t qualify for playoffs. Instead, they will pack their bags and head for CSU Los Angeles on Friday and CSU Dominguez Hills on Saturday.