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Basketball teams play into postseason

Greg Silvia

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Hannah Womack looks up court during Saturday's game against the Cal Poly Pomona Mustangs. Photo credit: Grant Mahan

The Chico State basketball program is poised to make a deep run in the postseason, starting with the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference tournament this weekend in Ontario, Calif.

Women’s

The Wildcats head into the CCAA tournament on a winning note, picking up a huge victory Saturday against first place Cal Poly Pomona 63-61.

The victory improved the ’Cats overall record to 18-8 and14-8 in conference play. Most importantly, the victory locked up the second seed for the Wildcats in the upcoming CCAA tournament, giving the team a first round bye.

A big seven-game winning streak in conference play during the middle of the season shaped the way for the ’Cats first round bye.

Despite losing two of its last three games, the Wildcats will look to hold on to its momentum from Saturday night’s game going into the playoffs

Senior guard Jazmine Miller believes Saturday’s victory over the first place Mustangs, is just what the ’Cats need going into the postseason, she said.

“I feel winning last night gave us a boost going into the CCAA tournament,” Miller said. “It just gave us our confidence and we are actually playing Chico State basketball.”

The team will face the winner of the first round matchup between Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State East Bay, Friday at 8:05 p.m.

During the regular season, the Wildcats won both its games against Dominguez Hills 80-78 and 54-51. However, it dropped both its games against Cal State East Bay 64-61 and 60-63.

The ’Cats will look for a strong performance in the CCAA tournament to improve its resume for an invitation into the NCAA West Regionals.

As it stands now, the Wildcats sit ranked fifth in the West region with the top eight making it to the tournament.

Men’s

A deflating loss on senior night for the Wildcats wasn’t how the players envisioned themselves going into the CCAA tournament.

After a fiery first half, the Wildcats took a 39-21 lead into halftime, only to blow the lead and drop the last regular season game 66-69 against the of Cal Poly Pomona Mustangs.

Saturday’s loss broke a five-game winning streak for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats wrap up the regular season with a 20-6 overall record and 15-6 record in conference play. The six losses for the Wildcats this season have been by a combined 11 points.

The team will carry the best regular season record since the ‘90s into the CCAA tournament as the third seed.

The men will kick off the postseason Thursday against San Francisco State in Ontario, Calif. with tip-off set for 2:35.

In the first two previous games against the San Francisco State Gators, the Wildcats came out on top, defeating them 67-50 at home and 71-57 on the road. The Gators head into the tournament as the sixth seed with a 14-11 record.

Led by a senior heavy starting lineup, the ’Cats will look to their previous experience to make a deep playoff push.

“Players have improved and gotten better,” junior forward Jordan Barton said. “Sean Park, Rashad and Amir have always been our leaders, but this season they have improved their game even more.”

The ‘Cats will head back to their CCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season, with hopes of returning to the NCAA West Regionals for the third consecutive season.

“I think with our group of guys we can go into the tournament and beat anyone,” senior guard Giordano Estrada said. “If we defend, we can hang with any team in the country.”

The winner of the first round matchup between the Gators and Wildcats will go on Friday to face Cal Poly Pomona in the semi-finals.

A rematch against the Mustangs would be the seventh time the teams have played each other in the last two seasons, with the Wildcats dropping all six previous games.

“We can’t look past San Francisco but in the back of my mind I’m still a little pissed we lost to Cal Poly Pomona and want another chance at them,” Estrada said.

Winning the CCAA tournament would equal an automatic birth in the NCAA West Regions.

As it stands right now, the Wildcats are ranked fifth in the West region with the top eight teams being selected for a chance to win the Division II National Championship.

“Every game we’ve lost this season has been by one possession,” Barton said. “We know we’re one of the best teams and we have a lot of confidence going into it.”

Greg Silvia can be reached at [email protected] or @gsilvia on Twitter.

Sergio Sanchez can be reached at [email protected] or @sergechez on Twitter.

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Basketball teams play into postseason