Chico State tops Cal Baptist in first round

Senior guard Rashad Parker. Photo courtesy of Chico State.

The opening game of the NCAA Championship Tournament West Regional for the Chico State men’s basketball team would end with a 77-71 victory over Cal Baptist.

The ‘Cats would be tested from the opening tip-off as the defense for Chico State did not play to its potential the first half.

Cal Baptist shot 44.83% from the field and were 11-12 on the free-throw line. The ‘Cats turned the ball over 10 times and trailed by as much as 15 points.

Chico State would end the half on a 15-6 run and go into the locker room with momentum on its side.

A different Chico State team would walk onto the court for the second half. The defense for the ‘Cats had arrived. Cal Baptist were 9-32 from the field in the second half, while Chico State went 16-32.

Chico State would be more physical and attack the basket. The ‘Cats scored 20 points in the paint the second half, compared to only 10 the first.

Rashad Parker and Jordan Semple would be key pieces for the victory Friday night as both players led Chico State with 20 points apiece.

Both teams would take the lead back and forth in the second half until Chico State grabbed a 71-69 lead with 3:51 remaining and not trail the rest of the game.

Amir Carraway also scored in double figures for the ‘Cats with 14 points while Giordano Estrada had eight points.

The victory Friday night was the second NCAA Tournament win in three years for Chico State. The ‘Cats had just one tournament win the 96 years before.

Chico State improved to 23-7 overall and will face California Collegiate Athletic Association rival Cal State San Bernardino in the semifinals, a team the ‘Cats split the regular season series with. The game is scheduled to begin Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Coussoulis Arena.

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