No. 7 Wildcats split games in their CCAA Bay Area road-trip


Javier Hernandre

The Wildcats’ lining up for the national anthem on 1/13/22 prior to their matchup against San Marcos.

Before the No. 7 Chico State Men’s Basketball team started their road trip, they received unfortunate news as they found out that starting guards Isaiah Brooks and Joshua Hamilton were deemed unable to play due to COVID protocols. 

Junior guard Colby Orr said the team was able to stay composed despite the adversity being thrown their way.

“A lot of guys stepped up and did great things that helped us get the win,” Orr said.

The good news is they did not test positive for COVID and only had to miss one of their Bay Area road games. 

The short-handed Wildcats started off their four game California Collegiate Athletic Association road-trip in San Francisco when they paid a visit to the San Francisco State Gators

The Wildcats barely met the NCAA requirement of needing seven active players to participate in a game with only eight players.

However, the Wildcats were able to bounce back from their crucial overtime loss against San Marcos and defeat the Gators. 

Junior guards Colby Orr and Joshua Curls, both started their first game of the season for the Wildcats while playing in place for Brooks and Hamilton. 

The first half was all in favor of the Wildcats as they headed into halftime up 35-23. They held the Gators to 26% shooting from the field and to 25% shooting from beyond the arc. 

Sophomore forward Breenan Wheeler said the team knew if they kept them under 60 points they would have a great chance of winning despite missing two starters.

“We struggled at times, but we stayed together,” Wheeler said. “We were able to grind out a win in a tough road environment.”

During the second half the Gators closed the gap and with five minutes remaining, the Gators sinked in a 3-pointer to tie the game at 54. 

With a minute remaining Senior forward Malik Duffy sank two free throws and gave the Wildcats the lead, their defense wouldn’t allow the Gators to score for the rest of the game. 

A pair of free throws from Orr would ice the game and the Wildcats would win 60-56 and improve to 11-1 on the season. 

The Wildcats continued their CCAA road-trip south to face-off against the Monterey Bay Otters. 

The Otters have a special connection with Senior forward Kevin Warren; as he started off his collegiate career there in 2016 and led them in points and 3-point shooting. 

The Otters came into the game with a 6-2 CCAA record, just one win shy of the Wildcats. 

Despite a halftime deficit, the Otters defeated the Wildcats 61-64 in Warren’s last game at his old school.

The Wildcats came into their game against the Otters with some reinforcements as guards, Brooks and Hamilton, cleared COVID protocols and returned to the starting lineup.

After Brooks’ 3-point sunk buzzer beater, the Wildcats would head into halftime up 40-33. They would out shoot the Otters in all facets of the game in the first half. 

With five minutes remaining in the second half Duffy’s shot put the Wildcats ahead 61-56. This would be the last time the Wildcats scored in the game. 

Duffy said the team needs to get back to what they are good at, which is playing great defense and team-oriented offense. 

“We need to get back to playing team offense and working together,” Duffy said. 

The Otters ended the game with a 8-0 run. The Wildcats offense would stall out and they would be handed to them their second loss of their season. 

The Wildcats now move to 11-2 on the season. Despite two losses in their last four games, Senior graduate assistant Ricky Delgado-Martinez said this team will learn from these games to improve their performance for next week’s road trip.

“Adversity is something that this team can handle,” Delgado-Martinez said. “There is a lot more basketball left to be played.” 

Duffy said this loss stings, but this team is ready to bounce back. 

“We want to prove that we are a top 10 team in the nation,” Duffy said. 
Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter