Branham and McFerren lead Chico State basketball to first round playoff victories


Guard Madison Wong dribbles the ball up the court in Chico State’s first round playoff matchup against Cal State LA. Photo credit: Martin Chang

It was an exciting night for Chico State basketball, as both the men and women emerged victorious in the first round of the playoffs.

The women defeated Cal State Los Angeles by a score of 78-62, and the men defeated Cal State San Bernardino by a score of 84-63.

The two games were higlighted by dominant performances by senior guards Whitney Branham and Jalen McFerren, who have both had tremendous senior years for the Wildcats.

In the women’s game, the Wildcats wasted no time getting ahead of Cal State San Bernardino, jumping out to a 13-4 lead in the first four minutes of the game.

Branham capped of an amazing regular season in which she broke the Chico State record for most career 3-pointers by racking up 28 points, including four from long distance. Branham finished her final home game at Acker Gym by hitting a perfect 10 of 10 free throws.

Whitney Branham, middle, drives to the hoop in Chico State's first round playoff matchup against Cal State LA. Photo credit: Martin Chang

Branham really opened up the game in the fourth quarter when she connected on three 3-pointers in a row. This sent the crowd into a frenzy, and put the Wildcats in a comfortable position to cruise to victory.

In the men’s game, the team got off to a bit of a slow start, but quickly turned things around.

In the first half, senior guard Corey Silverstrom led the way with 15 points. He impressed the crowd with a slick fake that sent a defender tumbling under the basket, finishing with 24 points on the game.

In the second half of the game, senior guard Jalen McFerren took over. He scored 22 of his 30 points in the second half, and connected on five of seven from 3-point range.

With 12 minutes left in the game, McFerren really got going. He finished an and-1 play at the basket and then proceeded to knock down two 3-pointers in a row.

This put the Wildcats up 63-45, and they never looked back.

When asked about last year’s playoff run and the expectations for the team this year, McFerren said, “I expect to make the same run and get even further. Being two games away from the National Championship gave us a lot of inspiration to get back there.”

It clearly showed out on the court tonight, as the ’Cats took care of business and cruised to a first round victory.

The women wil play their next playoff game against the University of San Diego at 5:35 p.m. Friday in Pomona, California.

They men will play their next playoff game against the University of San Diego at 2:35 p.m. Friday in Pomona, California.

Austin Schreiber can be reached at [email protected] or @aschreiber94 on Twitter.