No. 11 Wildcats lockdown the No. 14 Cougars


Javier Hernandez

Wildcat Isaiah Brooks giving his teammates a pre-game talk.

The highly anticipated rematch between the No. 11 and No. 14 teams in the country did not disappoint — especially, if you are a Wildcat fan. Chico State Men’s Basketball evened out the season series at one a piece with a win over the San Marcos Cougars.

The first half was a chess match as expected, every bucket the Wildcats made the Cougars would answer right back with one of their own. After a jump shot from junior guard Joshua Hamilton, both teams were held scoreless for the last two minutes. 

Heading 28-28 into the second half, both teams  struggled offensively as the Wildcats were shooting 32% from the field, while the Cougars were shooting a mere 26% from the field. 

Holding the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s second-ranked offense to those types of numbers is impressive. Senior guard Isaiah Brooks said it took the whole team’s defensive effort to shut down such a high power offense.

“It takes five to really play defense, individual defense can only take you so far,” Brooks said. 

During the beginning moments of the second half, the Wildcats went on a 9-2 run giving them a 37-30 lead. However,the Cougars trailed right behind them — and wouldn’t allow the game to get out of reach. 

With eight minutes remaining in the second half, Hamilton hit a 3-point shot to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game at 47-39.

Senior forward Malik Duffy sank in a clutch layup to give the Wildcats a 57-53 lead with just a minute remaining. This would be the dagger for the Cougars as they would have to play the free throw game, and it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit. 

Hamilton closed the game out with a pair of free throws and a defensive rebound, and the Wildcats went on to defeat the Cougars 63-57.

Junior guard Joshua Curls said the team really studied the film from their previous match up in order to even out the series with the Cougars. 

“Coach Clink really emphasized playing good team defense and keeping their bigs off of the offensive glass this game,” Curls said. 

Duffy led the way for the Wildcats with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Kevin Warren added 15 points, and Hamilton chipped in with 13 points. 

Despite their offensive accomplishments,the real story was the Wildcat’s defense, as they limited the Cougars to 33% from the field and 21% from beyond the arc. 

The Cougars averaged 75 points per game this season, but the Wildcats limited them to 57 points that night, a season low for Cougars. Hamilton said these are the type of games that help them for their postseason run. 

“Games like this [low scoring] though are our type of games and we like the grind-it-out style of basketball, it tests everybody’s grit and what they’re made of,” Hamilton said. 

The last two regular season games are coming up for seniors Isaiah Brooks, Joshua Curls, Malik Duffy, Colby Orr and Kevin Warren. 

Curls said the nostalgia is starting to kick in but they still have a postseason run ahead of them. 

“I am obviously sad that my days in Acker Gym are coming to an end, but I am excited for this postseason push we are about to make,” Curls said. “I love competing with these guys everyday, and when it’s all said and done, that’s what I will miss the most.”

Chico State Men’s Basketball next call to action will be Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Acker Gym, as they host the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros.

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