The stature of Western Washington University’s front line was too much for the SF State women’s basketball team to handle as the Gators fell 64-50 tonight in its first game of the season.
The teams played evenly in most phases of the game, but Western Washington’s 18-rebound edge was more than SF State could overcome.
“We didn’t have an answer for them. We didn’t have anyone the size to matchup with them,” said head coach Joaquin Wallace.
Knowing their size disadvantage would hurt them in a slow-paced game, the Gators pushed the tempo in the early minutes with great success.
Guards Charnay Bell and Angela Van Sickel hounded the Vikings into a number of early turnovers. The Gators created three layups off steals to take a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes.
The Vikings turned the ball over 13 times in the first half.
“We just had a lot of intensity and energy. They were a lot taller than us so we just had to make up for it by just being intense,” said junior guard Nicole Hicks.
Western Washington eventually managed to crack the Gator pressure and capitalize on their advantage in half-court sets.
Though they shot just 3 for 11 from three-point-range in the first half, the Vikings stayed in the game by out-rebounding the Gators 27 to 16 in the opening 20 minutes.
“They were just on the glass, man,” Wallace said. “Over time they just wear you down because they’re just big.”
The Gators led for most of the first half on the back of sophomore forward Candyce Matthews, who had eight of her team-high 14 points in the first two periods.
Freshman Farrah Shokoor chipped in eight of her ten points in the first half. Shokoor also contributed six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Gators’ speed matched the Vikings’ size dominance the first 20 minutes and the teams entered halftime knotted at 27-27.
The wheels fell off for SF State in the opening minutes of the second half. The Gators turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions, allowing the Vikings to go on a 9-point-run to open the period.
“We didn’t come out with the same intensity we did in the first half. I think that’s kind of what got to us,” Hicks said.
The Gators fought off the run and played the Vikings tough for much of the second half.
After scoring just four points between them in the first half, Hicks and fellow junior Michaela Booker combined for 15 in the second.
Hicks hit a jumper with 6:30 remaining to bring SF State within six, but Western Washington responded with three-pointers from junior Corinn Waltrip and freshman Sydney Donaldson on the next two possessions to push the lead to 12 with five minutes left.
“It’s just hard when they have back to back threes. That’s one thing that you don’t want to see in basketball. It just brings you down,” Shokoor said.
The Vikings outscored the Gators by 21 points from beyond the arc. Freshman Erin Feeny iced the game when she knocked down a three with 90 seconds remaining to put her team up by 12.
Though the Gators lost, Wallace was pleased with their effort against a quality opponent. He believes the team’s play portends good things down the line for the season.
“I tell you what, I’m pleased,” Wallace said. “We had some very good things out of that game.”
The Gators will get short rest as they play again Saturday against Seattle Pacific University at the Cal State East Bay campus.