Women’s basketball grinds out third straight victory

San Francisco State Gators celebrate their win against Cal State San Marcos Cougars at the Swamp on Thursday Feb. 11 2016. (Connor Hunt/Xpress)

The SF State women’s basketball team reigned victorious in an overtime thriller Thursday, defeating the Cal State San Marcos Cougars 50-48. The Gators recorded their third straight win, but it did not come easy.

The first few minutes of the game were controlled by the Gators, but they struggled to put much together offensively until late in the game.

Despite the lack of offense, the Gators were able to keep the game close with a strong defensive performance.

“That was a classic grinder,” said head coach Dennis Cox. “We had to grind it out, that was our fourth game in seven days.”

SFSU Gators Naila Washington (42) drives in against Cal State San Marcos' Ashley Ontiveros (15) during their game at the Swamp on Thursday Feb. 11 2016. (Connor Hunt/Xpress)

SFSU Gators Naila Washington (42) drives in against Cal State San Marcos’ Ashley Ontiveros (15) during their game at the Swamp on Thursday Feb. 11 2016. (Connor Hunt/Xpress)

The Gators forced 15 turnovers, blocked 11 shots and held the Cougars to 24 percent shooting from the field.

After a sluggish couple of quarters, the Gators found it offensively. Point guard Felicia Villarruel hit a 3-pointer with 4:42 left in the game, giving the Gators a 42-41 lead.

The Cougars regained the lead, but forward Naila Washington managed to drive up the lane and score with 26 seconds left, tying the game 46-46. The Gators would deny the Cougars any chance of winning in regulation and sent the game to OT.

In a five-minute overtime period, the Gators were only able four points, but that would prove to be enough to secure a victory.

Washington said the spark in play later in the game was fueled by the support of her teammates.

“We always give each other this confidence,” Washington said. “Just attack, and if you mess up it’s okay.”

The senior scored 18 points, recorded three assists and two blocks.

Center Kiara Ginwright made up for eight of the 11 blocks by the Gators, including one big one with one minute remaining in OT.

“I just try to pop up and surprise them when they were driving up,” Ginwright said. “With my length they just basically put it in my hands.”

The Gators will host UC Santa Cruz on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at The Swamp.