Wildcats come back strong


Chico State takes on Cal State San Marcos in Acker Gym.

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to UC San Diego, the Chico State men’s basketball team returned to the court strong with a 79-73 win over California State University, San Marcos in Acker Gym on Saturday Feb. 8. 

The Wildcats were recovering from a tough loss in arguably the biggest game of the season. Their schedule forced them to have a short memory, as the San Marcos Cougars came to town just two days later.

“It’s really tough after a loss like that to pick yourself up, but that’s what we have to do because there are no easy games in this league,” Calvin Geraci said.

The Wildcats united to tough out the win. They were scoring all over the court, with starters Justin Briggs, Malik Duffy and Isiah Brooks contributing a total of 14 points. 

Isaiah Brooks handles the ball around Cal State San Marcos defender.

The first half came with big-time buckets from guards Calvin Geraci and Colby Orr, helping the Wildcats push through their slow start. Teamwork is in the DNA of this year’s squad, selfish play simply does not fit the system. For example, Geraci started the game shooting lights out in the first half then passed the torch to his teammates in the second.

“I shot the ball one time in the second half…but everyone shoots it,” Geraci said. “Everything we take is a good shot so there’s no complaints. Sometimes it’s your turn, sometimes it’s not.”

Calvin Geraci shoots a shot from the 3-point line.

Colby Orr, who averages three points a night, hit big shots during the game and scored nine points all in the first half. Orr hit multiple threes during a 13-2 run at the end of the first half, which gave the Wildcats a lead after trailing for a bulk of the game.

“I was just taking what the defense gave me,” Orr said. “We had a timeout before that, and Coach Clink was really emphasizing moving the ball. When we start moving the ball and playing good defense, our defense carries into our offense.” 

Many of the team’s issues in the first half of the game were fixed and addressed before the Cougars could get a significant lead. San Marcos’s talented Khalil Fuller started off the game on a tear. Fuller scored eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game, and the Wildcats seemed to have no answer. Fuller was held to just two points in the second half.

“We tried to push him out the block as much as possible, try to make him catch it away from the block, and out rebound him because he’s the top rebounder in our league. We definitely addressed him at halftime,” Duffy said.

The Wildcats took over in the second half. They stepped up their intensity on defense, which led to 18 points off turnovers and a plethora of easy buckets. They secured the victory.

Chico State’s ability to make in-game adjustments and play team basketball should prove to be key in making a playoff run this year.

The Wildcats head to Pomona on Feb. 13 to face the Broncos, who are ahead in the standings and have proved to be a worthy adversary.

“We struggle with their zone a little bit, everyone does. I think they force the most turnovers, so that’s gonna be tough,” Geraci said about the Broncos match-up.

Arrow VanAbrams can be reached at [email protected] or @Arrow__3 on Twitter.