CCAA playoff ticket secured for Chico State Women’s basketball after clutch layup


Javier Hernandez

Wildcat Haley Ison on defense against the Toros on Feb.24.

The first match up of the year between Chico State Women’s Basketball team and the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros went in favor of the hosting Wildcats as they secured a spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs.

After a pair of double-digit losses, the Chico State Women’s Basketball team’s objective stayed the same — a  single win meant a spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs. 

The Wildcats started off the first quarter on a 5-0 run, thanks to shots from freshman guard Charity Gallegos and junior forward Haley Ison.

The fast start seemed like a good sign for the Wildcats, but the quarter ultimately ended up tied at 10 points each. Both teams shot below 30% from the field in the first quarter.

With four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Gallegos’ 3-pointer gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the first half at 21-15. However, the Toros quickly rallied back to tie the game 28-28. 

Both teams improved on their shooting, as the Wildcats hit 38% of their shots, while the Toros hit 40% of theirs.

The Wildcats came out with a purpose in the first couple of minutes during the third quarter, as they came out the gates with a 6-0 run after buckets from Ison and sophomore forward Jordan Morris.

Gallegos sank in a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats their biggest lead at 37-30 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. 

Just as things started to look good for the Wildcats; the Toros rallied back and would end up leading 52-51 heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final 30 seconds of the game, the Wildcats were down 64-63 and needed a stop to give themselves a chance to win the game. 

After a trap on Toro Kelsey Bell, the Wildcats got the stop they needed and forced a turnover. 

Coach Brian Fogel put the ball in Gallegos’ hand and she did the rest. Gallegos got a one-on one-matchup and blew by her defender to sink in a left-handed layup. This caused fans in Acker Gym to erupt as the Wildcats went on to win 65-64.

Gallegos said she knew her team needed a bucket.

“We needed to score,” Gallegos said. “I just saw that they gave me a driving lane and I took advantage.”

Fogel said Gallegos has earned his trust because she has proved the moment is never too big for her.

“She thrives in those moments,” Fogel said. “The game-winning basket embodies her mentality and she came up big for us.”

The Wildcats were led by Gallegos, who ended up with 18 points for the night, and Ison ended up with 11 points and 21 rebounds, one rebound shy from the single-game school record. 

Ison said the record didn’t matter to her, she just did her best in trying to help her team win the rebounding battle.

“They are a really good rebounding team, I knew I had to play my part in helping our team,” Ison said.

The Wildcats improved to 13-9 and 10-7 in CCAA play for the season. This win propelled them into a spot in the CCAA playoffs. 

Ison said securing a playoff spot means so much to the team.

“We have had so many ups and downs this season,” Ison said. “Securing a spot in the playoffs makes all the adversity we went through worth it.” 

Fogel said senior Mikaela  Bismillah is the epitome of a Wildcat and will be dearly missed.

“She is the ultimate teammate,” Fogel said. “She just cares about the team only and Chico is a better place with her being in our program for four years.”

The next opponent for the Wildcats are the East Bay Pioneers, on Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Acker Gym. 

Prior to the start of the game, Bismillah will be honored during her last home game at Acker.
Javier Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter.