Chico State Men’s Basketball roars through the Conference Crossover Challenge


Lyle Ibarra

Head Coach Greg Clink talking to his team during their game versus SPU

It has been nearly two years since the Wildcats were in action in an “official game.” 

They played the UCLA Bruins on Nov. 4 in an exhibition and lost to the current No. 2 ranked NCAA Division I team. 

The Wildcats had to watch  film and learn from it, as they participated in the Conference Crossover Challenge that was being held at Cal Poly Pomona. 

“We were excited to finally play after such a long time off,” said senior guard Kevin Warren .

Assistant Coach Ashton Pomrehn mentioned the game against UCLA helped them understand how much focus and discipline play a factor to stay competitive in a 40 minute game.

“Every time we were faced with adversity this weekend we came together as a team,” Pomrehn said. “That camaraderie is what essentially got us two wins against two high level Division 2 opponents.”

Their first opponent was the Azusa Pacific Cougars on Nov. 12, where the Wildcats prevailed to get their first win of the season by a final score of 59-51.

Senior guard Isaiah Brooks said during their first official practice that one of their goals was to be one of the best defenses in Division II.   

The Wildcat defense came to play in their first game as they held the Cougars to an impressive 34% from the field and 23.8% from the three-point line. 

Sophomore guard Joshua Hamilton led the way with 15 points and added five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Sophomore forward Kelvin Wright Jr. stood out with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. 

Wright Jr. is considered a “small” forward for most standards as he stands 6 feet 4 inches, but  doesn’t play small.

“I know that I’m faster and for the most part I’m usually stronger or just as strong as bigger guys, which makes it easier for me to keep up with them,” Wright Jr. said.

Forward Kelvin Wright Jr. going up for a block against SPU. Photo Credit: Lyle Ibarra

The Wildcats had to have a short memory because they faced off the NCAA No. 21 ranked Division II team, the Seattle Pacific Falcons the following day on Nov. 13. 

It was a tall task for the Wildcats, but with a strong performance from Warren, the Wildcats upset the Falcons 70-65.

Warren led all scorers with 25 points, while shooting 76% from the field. He also led the game in steals with four. 

Hamilton made his presence felt once again as he dropped 16 points and hit a  jumper to give the Wildcats a five point lead late in the game, which was too much for the Falcons to overcome.

Hamilton has come up big for the Wildcats in their first two games. He credits this to his will to win.

“I pride myself on being a competitor and will do anything my team needs for us to get a win,” Hamilton said. 

Joshua Hamilton attacking the rim against SPU. Photo Credit: Lyle Ibarra

The Wildcats defense forced an imposing 21 turnovers, which led to 35 points for them.

The Wildcats swept their opponents in their tournament.

Warren said that beating two west region opponents who are highly respected in the Division II scene felt great.

“We wanted to be an aggressive team and just come out competing at a high level,” Warren said.

The Wildcats will have two non-conference games before starting California Collegiate Athletic Association play.

The Wildcats will  host the Academy of Art Urban Knights on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Acker Gym.

This will be the Wildcats’ first home game since March 3, 2019

Senior forward Malik Duffy said they have to keep up with the women’s basketball team and that it is time to lock in for their first home game of the season.

“For me it’s my first last home game and it’s sad,” Duffy said. “I’m ready to keep this winning streak going and get this win.”
Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter.