The No. 7 Wildcats nearing history as they power through the Lumberjacks


Javier Hernandez

The Wildcats huddling up prior to their match up against the Lumberjacks.

The Chico State Men’s Basketball program remains undefeated after their first eight games of the season for only the third time in Wildcat history.

For the second week in a row, the Wildcats have been ranked either the No. 5 or No. 7 team in the nation, by the Division II Media Poll and the National Association of Basketball Coaches

The Wildcats have been carried by their California Collegiate Athletic Association 2nd-best-rated defense and their CCAA best-rated 3-point shooting. 

The Humboldt State Lumberjacks arrived in Chico with hopes of dethroning the unbeaten Wildcats. The Lumberjacks came into the match-up 7-2, riding a two-game win streak. 

That streak ended inside Acker Gym, as the Wildcats dominated the Lumberjacks 86-60.

This was the Wildcats’ ninth-straight win, and they now stand one game short of tying a franchise-best 10-0 start. This record has stood since the 1942-43 season. 

The Wildcats started off the night with a 6-0 run, which set the tone for the rest of the match. 

With less than a minute left in the first half, freshman guard Evan Oliver hit a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 48-20 lead heading into half. 

The Wildcats defense was the show in the first half as they held the Lumberjacks to 24% from the field and 20% from the 3-point line. 

The No. 7 Wildcats are currently ranked as the No. 2 3-point field goal defense in the nation, as they are holding their opponents to 25% from beyond the arc . 

Sophomore guard Joshua Hamilton credits their defense to  Head Coach Greg Clink’s game plan.

“I am trying to have fun out there while I’m on the court,” Hamilton said. “When I’m out there my big personality shows and sometimes it gets into people’s heads.”

In the second half, the Wildcats continued to play their second-ranked CCAA defense as they held the Lumberjacks to 60 points. This mark was the Lumberjacks’ lowest scoring affair in 19 games, which was the last time they played the Wildcats. 

Despite having the size advantage, the Lumberjacks scored a season-low and senior guard Kevin Warren credits this to their ability to rebound.

Guard Kevin Warren throwing it down during a fast break.

“Me and [Ham] pride ourselves on being aggressive on the boards and don’t allow any easy shots,” Warren said.

Senior Malik Duffy led the way with 22 points and said he credits this to being able to adapt to different play styles. Duffy, who is known for his 3-point shooting, said today he had to use the inside game to his advantage.

“They weren’t doubling the post and I feel like when they don’t double the post it is an opportunity for me to score inside,” Duffy said.

The Wildcats continued their red hot shooting as they shot 55% from the field and a stout 58% from beyond the arc. 

After this win, the Wildcats remain at the top of the CCAA 3-point percentage leaders at 42%.

Duffy wasn’t the only Wildcat scoring double digits. Hamilton had 19 points on the night, and senior guards Isaiah Brooks and Warren combined for 26 points. 

Hamilton credits his efficient night from the field to the type of defense the Lumberjacks play, which allowed him to be aggressive on the offensive end. 

Forward Kaleb Carter blocking a ‘Jack layup attempt.

“I was trying to use my quickness and use what I could offer to help the team out,” Hamilton said.

The magic number for the Wildcats is now down to one. They just need one more victory to tie their historic start from the 1942-43 season.

The 79-year old record is something the Wildcats have in the back of their minds — but isn’t their main focus. 

“We just play our game every game,” Duffy said. “Now that we are rolling, we just have to keep it up.”

The Wildcats will end the year on the right foot, as they didn’t lose a regular season game during 2021. 

The Wildcats will continue their quest to make history on Jan. 2 as they face off against the Stanislaus State Warriors in Acker Gym at 3 p.m. 

Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter.