After their final two crucial victories needed to crash the tournament, the Gators were ready for a storybook run. Unfortunately for SF State, its Cinderella story ended before it could begin.
On a night where senior forward Brandon Tatum went off for 25 points, his career high wasn’t enough as the Gators lost to Chico State, 78-66 in the team’s opener for the California Collegiate Athletics Association Tournament, March 6.
“Tatum was a workhorse fueling us throughout the game,” senior center Max Fodor said. “Chico hit a few late threes in the end to put them ahead and we could not come back from that.”
Early foul trouble for its top players, including senior guard Nefi Perdomo and offensive woes hurt the team in the second half despite a 27-25 halftime lead. Perdomo finished with just seven points.
The Wildcats were able to take advantage and outscored the team 53-39 the rest of the way. Tatum was the only Gator to finish the game with double figures in points.
“We got up early and we were playing really well defensively,” coach Paul Trevor said. “But we should have been up more; we should have capitalized on more opportunities.”
The Gators finished the season in sixth place with an overall record of 14-12 and 12-10 in the CCAA conference.
After the game, Trevor said he told his team in the locker room to appreciate its seniors for all their work in their final season.
“I told them that everyone in this room should thank the seniors,” Trevor said. “For all the sacrifices they’ve made to make us have such great success.”
Perdomo finished his final season with a slew of SF State records and said he hopes to be remembered for his time playing Gators basketball.
“It’s a big accomplishment, ever since I was little I’ve always wanted to be remembered playing basketball,” Perdomo said. “I guess breaking some records will do that. I’ll be remembered when I leave and my legacy will still be here. I don’t know for how long but it’s still going to be here.”
For Fodor, who played four seasons at SF State alongside Perdomo, the loss was the last game for him as a Gator, along with six other senior teammates.
“It was sad to watch the game and our season end so abruptly, but we had worked hard through the highs and lows,” Fodor said. “I would gladly call upon any of my teammates and consider them brothers and family. I will always remember this team and this season as a highlight of my life.”