The crowd erupted repetitively in the last two minutes of the SF State men’s basketball game against the Chico State Wildcats. On their feet and shouting, fans cheered for a comeback as the Gators fought to gain possession to try scoring the few points that would tie the game.
Despite the positive cheering, the Gators fell short in the last few minutes, losing the game 72-66. A few missed shots and lost rebounds left the Gators just short of beating the undefeated Wildcats.
“We got into a lull that we couldn’t get out of,” said head coach Paul Trevor. “Offensive execution needs improvement, we need to get back to basics.”
Whereas in previous games the team’s focus was defensive, the game against the Wildcats proved to be more of an offensive struggle. The Gators came out strong in the first half, and held their highest lead, of five points, in the first half.
However a few missed rebound opportunities and several missed shots led to the Wildcats’ 14-point lead, leaving the Gators to fight for a comeback.
“Defensive rebounding definitely could’ve been better,” said Griffin Reilly, who led the game with 13 rebounds.
The Gators trailed the Wildcats by a few points most of the game, but couldn’t come back from the 14-point lead held by the Wildcats. The tension peaked in the last minute when a layup by freshman David Love and a jump shot from Nefi Perdomo brought the Gators within four points of the Chico State lead. But the Gators didn’t score again until another layup by Perdomo with four seconds left in the game.
Reilly and assistant coach Alex Pribble both agreed with Trevor that offensive execution needed improvement, but that defense had developed. Trevor acknowledged that while an improved defense is admirable, the practice shouldn’t detract from offensive performance and he stressed the importance of detail.
“I think we came together as a team, but didn’t pay attention to detail,” Pribble said. “It’s important to identify where we’re at and get better from there.”
The Gators (2-5 overall) recently had a close win against Jacksonville State, the first time since 1983 that the team had beaten a Division I team.
Perdomo, who was recently named to a second All-Tournament team, had a team high and personal season best 25 points against the Wildcats. Reilly followed was second with 13 points.
“Nefi and Reilly played great games,” Trevor said. “We just need to work harder.”
The Gator’s team chemistry has improved in the last few games, as plays seemed to have more fluidity. Trevor said the team would continue to work, to improve, and develop teamwork among the new players.
The Gators next face Cal State Stanislaus Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at home. The Warriors are currently 3-0 in the league and average around 80 points per game, so the game will be a test for the Gator defense.
“I think we’ll be a big force in the league come January,” Trevor said. “It’s not a matter of if it’ll turn around. It’s just a matter of when.”