No. 11 Wildcats thrash the Golden Eagles in Southern California


Javier Hernandez

Wildcat Breenan Wheeler dunking during pre-game warmups.

The No. 11 Wildcats won their third-straight game as they coasted past the Cal State LA Golden Eagles in their second-to-last road game of the regular season. 

Chico State Men’s Basketball became ranked No. 3 in the West region on Thursday, according to NCAA first regional rankings. 

The game went back and forth for the majority of the first half, until the Wildcats went on a mini run toward the end. 

During the last two minutes, the Wildcats went on a 5-0 run and extended their lead to 43-30 heading into half. This 13-point lead was their largest of the half.

The biggest contributor to this lead for the Wildcats was the 3-pointer. They held the Golden Eagles 30% from beyond the arc, while the Wildcats were shooting 55% from the 3-point land.

The Wildcats started off the second half on an 8-0 run, thanks to big shots from senior guard and forward, Kevin Warren and Malik Duffy.

Their lead was up to 51-30, which helped jump start their offensive onslaught during the second half.

Duffy said confidence is what led to this offensive explosion in the second half.

“We got in a rhythm early and just stuck with it,” Duffy said.

With three minutes left in the second half, junior forward Kaleb Carter would sink in a free throw to give the Wildcats their biggest advantage of the game at 78-57.

The game was over by then, but after a couple of garbage time buckets from the Golden Eagles, the Wildcats went on to win 82-65.

The Wildcats held the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s third-ranked offense to nine points below their average of 74 points per game. 

Duffy said the defensive intensity is what made this possible.

“We ride on our defense and that’s what’s going to take us to the promise land,” Duffy said.

The Wildcats have improved to 16-3 on the season and 12-3 in league play.

This win also put them in sole possession of second place in the CCAA standings, as the Monterey Bay Otters lost.

Sophomore forward Breenan Wheeler celebrated his birthday on the road with his team and was rewarded with a win at the end of the night.

“It is always special being around the team to celebrate something like a birthday,” Wheeler said. “This team is special and we’ve got our sights set on a long postseason.”

The Wildcats visit the No.14 San Marcos Cougars on Feb. 19 to cap off their final road trip of the season. The Cougars beat the Wildcats earlier in the season in an overtime classic.

Warren said for the Wildcats to get their revenge it is going to take everything from them.

“We have to be locked in both defensively and offensively,” Warren said. “We also have to come out and know how important this matchup is.”

Warren also received great news before their game on Thursday. He is now a CoSIDA Academic All-District honor recipient. 

“I am glad I am able to accomplish another academic accolade,” Warren said. “I take pride in giving my best effort on and off the court.”
Javier Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter.