The Sonoma State Seawolves (3-3) opened up a three-game homestand against the Cal State East Bay Pioneers (4-4) on Thursday, looking to improve off of their 10-point loss last week to the Stanislaus State Warriors.
Coming out fast and looking early and often to get the ball down low to their star center, Ugochi Anudokem, the Seawolves looked poised to implement an effective post game, going at the Pioneer’s relatively short centers.
Although competitive early, Sonoma State would fall short of the win, losing to East Bay 38-55. Their record now stands at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
The Seawolves’ effort was never in question, as they ran a tight 2-3 zone defense, and at times a full-court press, but Sonoma State was unable to keep up with the Pioneer’s depth, getting outscored 3-25 in points off the bench and shooting only 24 percent from the field in the first half.
The offense looked lost at times when Anudokem was benched, looking down low for their leading scorer but having to settle elsewhere, often hoisting jump shots from all over the floor. Over half of the Seawolves’ points came from the paint.
Going into the half down 17-26, Sonoma State looked to start the second half out on the right foot, but a couple early buckets by the Pioneers forced head coach Rich Shayewitz to burn an early timeout to gather his squad’s composure.
Shooting guard Sophie Northern attempted to rally the team late in the third quarter, drilling a corner three and following up the next possession with a right-handed layup through traffic.
They entered the final frame down 30-41, the game still within reach. But we all have off-days, and Thursday night was just that.
An inability to convert free throws -- they made 10 of 18 from the line -- and close, seemingly-routine layups proved too much for the Seawolves to overcome.
Going into Saturday on a two-game losing streak, the team looked to improve upon their poor field goal percentage and capitalize on points off turnovers, although they would have to do so against a Cal Poly Pomona team with an undefeated conference record and only one loss overall.
Despite five lead changes and a competitive first three quarters, the Seawolves would lose 69-78.
The lack of offensive production off the bench and third consecutive game with 18 or more turnovers led to only seven points off the bench and 25 Broncos’ points off turnovers to Sonoma State’s 2.
With a record that now stands at 1-4 in conference play and 3-5 overall, the Seawolves will need to dig deep to keep their season alive, although it may still be too early to rule out a strong postseason push.
While Sonoma State boasts a strong starting five and a couple offensive stars in Anudokem and Kylie Kiech, they will need significantly more production from their bench if they hope to compete for a spot in the postseason.
The team will rest this week and play the final game of the three-game homestand next Saturday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. against the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes.