Women’s basketball brings home the win as seniors lead by example


Senior Haley Cremen, left, poses with her mother, Penni Cremen. Cremen was one of four seniors honored during Saturday’s Senior Night. Photo credit: Martin Chang

The Wildcats showed up ready to defend Aker one last time this year and did just that defeating Cal State San Marcos 74-56 in an explosive game Saturday night during Senior Night for the Wildcats.

There was a ceremony for the senior players before the game. Their families surrounded them as their time at Chico was chronicled through the speakers. Seniors Kayla Taylor, Whitney Branham, Jo Payne and Haley Cremen were honored.

The ’Cats started the night off strong with Senior Kayla Taylor scoring the first two points of the game. They continued to lead throughout the first quarter, finishing 19-17.

Senior Kayla Taylor looks for an open teammate during the Senior Night matchup against Cal State San Marcos. Photo credit: Martin Chang

Branham was a powerhouse during the second quarter, scoring multiple 3-pointers. Shortly before the end of the second half, Branham made back to back 3-pointers, and followed that up with an and-one to bring Aker Gym to their feet.

Senior Whitney Branham, left, shoots one of her three 3-pointers on the night. Photo credit: Martin Chang

Junior McKena Barker came in clutch and the Wildcats ended the second quarter 37-28 Chico.

Branham continued to lead the team by example in the third quarter, ending with 18 points on the board, 56-49 Wildcats.

Senior Haley Cremen came off of the bench from knee injury and played during the last few minutes with the Wildcats getting the victory of 74-56.

The seniors all came to play against the Cougars.

Senior Jo Paine played amazing defense throughout the game. She ended the night with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 10 points scored. “We try to bring the same energy for every game so it shouldn’t have been any different just because it was Senior Night. I think we were a little more hyped, the crowd was definitely hyped so we just got into that vibe,” Paine said.

Senior Jo Paine, right, shoots the ball during the Senior Night matchup against Cal State San Marcos. Photo credit: Martin Chang

Taylor showed up on both offense and defense Saturday, finishing out the night with eight points, 10 rebounds, and two steals to add on to her team heigh 36. “Two months ago coach said we might’ve not gotten out of that rut and here we are now,” said Taylor. “We’re just grinding, doing well, and staying the course.”

Branham was on fire against the Cougars, scoring a total of 21 points throughout the night.

Reminiscing on her time at Chico, Branham said, “Spending all those hours putting your blood, sweat, and tears into that court is really true and worth it. You have some of your best and worst times on that court and having it come full circle is definitely where a lot of my memories are.” Branham will finish as one of Chico State’s best women’s basketball players, particularly from beyond the 3-point line.

The seniors all came to play against the Cougars.

Coach Brian Fogel had some kind words to say about his senior players. “I just want to thank the seniors for everything they have contributed to our program. They are better people than they are basketball players and I can see them all going on to be very successful,” said Fogel. “The example that they set for the younger players is something I’m very proud of.”

Courtney Chapman can be reached at [email protected] or @courtneychaps on twitter.