The SF State women’s basketball team fell short of a victory at home against Cal State San Bernardino Friday despite a strong start in the first half.
In spite of a 17-point lead in the first period and stellar performances by senior center Dominique Hunter and sophomore guard Nicole Hicks, the visiting team bounced back, landing 16 of their 27 field goal attempts in the second half.
The 64-54 loss was due in part to a number of small errors the Gators made late in the second half.
“We struggled with the small stuff, with the little shots under the basket and things like that,” said assistant coach Nichole Schutte. “At first, we got every shot we wanted, we just have to learn to finish.”
Despite only hitting 11-31 shots in the first half at just 35.5 percent from the field, the Gators prospered at the free-throw line, sinking 12 of their first 13 foul shots.
Hunter, who had her 10th double-double of the season with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, was a huge contributor and an unstoppable force under the basket, with 11 boards in the first half alone. Hicks was also a factor for the Gators, finishing with 13 points.
“We were scoring, and I think we did well on defense,” Hunter said of the team’s explosive first half. “We knew what sets they were running, and we were taking them out of their rhythm.”
The Coyotes struggled to connect at the onset of the game, sinking only 8 of their 30 field goal attempts and leading only once in the first half. Twelve straight points from the Gators solidified their biggest lead of the match at 33-16 with three minutes left in the first half.
Back-to-back baskets by CSUSB’s Danielle Shows and Eisha Sheppard, separated by a Hunter free throw, narrowed the deficit to 34-20 to close out the half.
It was at the beginning of the second half that the Gators began to decline. The Gators led 38-22 until a three-pointer by CSUSB’s Angela Streets set the Coyotes in motion. San Bernardino would proceed to force seven turnovers in the minutes following, and reclaimed the lead 46-47 after Streets hit a crucial jump shot with 8:14 left to play.
Hunter temporarily reclaimed a 48-47 lead with two successful free throws with 6:54 left, but it was the last time the Gators would lead the game. Another Coyote three-pointer by Sabrina Gonzalez would set the CSUSB team in motion to a victory.
A 10-2 Coyote run in the final minutes of play sealed the Gators fate with a 64-54 loss.
Nichole Schutte credits CSUSB’s success to their experience and skill at the point guard position.
“They’re a veteran team, and they hit shots at the end,” Schutte said. “They have a point guard who led their team. She’s their go-to, and at the end she did what she had to do.”
The Gators struggled the following day as they traveled to Pomona, where they came up short against Cal Poly Pomona 72-59.
Despite another tough loss, the lady Gators had standout performances from star players. Hunter claimed her 11th double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Hicks contributed a career high 16 points. Sophomore guard Michaela Booker added nine.
The Gators will travel to La Jolla Thursday, Feb. 3 for their next CCAA match-up against UC San Diego.