The Orion

Senior players lead Wildcats on playoff pursuit

Lars Gustafson

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Chico State's Annie Ward plays in a game against Cal State L.A. on Friday in Acker Gym. On a recent run of road games, Ward sank nine 3-pointers out of 14 attempts. Photo credit: Malik Payton

Senior guards Hannah Womack and Annie Ward have made the sound of the net swooshing a common occurrence in Acker Gym.

According to Ward, her relationship with Womack started when Womack transferred from New Mexico State in 2012.

“Since we have played together for so long, we know where each other (is at on the court),” Ward said, “It’s a sixth sense.”

The two guards have great basketball chemistry and create mismatches for their opposition on the offensive side of the court.

“It’s awesome. I love playing with her because they can’t guard both of us,” Womack said. “When me and Annie are both hot, it’s crazy.”

As the second half of the season gets underway, Womack shows no signs of slowing down. She leads the team in points per game, free throws, steals and minutes.

Womack’s 14.8 points per game leads all Wildcat scorers. She has been the most consistent player since day one, which can be attributed to her nonstop work ethic, said head coach Brian Fogel.

“I don’t think Hannah has lost a line drill since I’ve been here to be honest,” Fogel said.

While Womack continuously drives to the basket, Ward is much more of a perimeter shooter. Ward is second on the team in 3-pointers, along with leading the team in assists and sits in fourth for points per game.

Ward, who is normally a solid shooter beyond the arc, had a tough start to the season. She was 9-43 on her 3-point attempts since November, but recent success could get her back on track, Fogel said.

Ward averaged 18.5 points per game against Cal State East Bay and Cal State Monterey Bay two weekends ago. She also connected on nine 3-pointers on just 14 attempts during the road trip.

“She was frustrated that her shots weren’t falling at the beginning of the season,” said junior forward Brooke Bowen. “But we kept telling her to keep shooting, and her shots have finally started to fall.”

According to Ward, the team looks to her and Womack to lead a relatively young group on a late playoff push, as they sit 7-9 in the conference.

“They understand the culture we want to have within our program,” Fogel said. “They’re extremely hard working and lead by example.”

Bowen said that the two teammates have grown close both on and off the court during the past three seasons.

According to Ward and Womack, when they set each other up for a shot that goes in, they point at each other as they run down the court. The tradition started last year when they won the league title against Cal State Monterey Bay, Womack said.

“She pointed at me, and I pointed at her, and a timeout was called,” Ward said. “We jumped on each other and went crazy. That shows how much we both care about the sport, each other and the program. That chemistry has evolved into something great. I think that’s something special that not every player gets to experience.”

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @larsonsports on Twitter.

Nick Martinez also contributed to this story.

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Senior players lead Wildcats on playoff pursuit