Women’s basketball remains upbeat after senior night loss

In what would be four seniors’ last game at The Swamp on senior night, the SF State women’s basketball team came up just short of an epic comeback against the Sonoma State Seawolves.

The Gators lost 50-44, in large part due to a sluggish first half in which they shot only 22 percent from the field, and 1-for-10 on 3-pointers.

“We lost that game in the first half,” head coach Dennis Cox said. “I thought we weren’t really in the game mentally at the start, and you can never take a team for granted in this conference.” 

 SFSU Gators Gaurd Felicia Villarruel (3) dribbles past Sonoma State Seawolves Guard Jessica Mitz (22) at The Swamp on February 20, 2016. (Connor Hunt / Xpress)

SFSU Gators Gaurd Felicia Villarruel (3) dribbles past Sonoma State Seawolves Guard Jessica Mitz (22) at The Swamp on February 20, 2016. (Connor Hunt / Xpress)

The Gators turned the game around in the second half and nearly tied it. Despite an 18-point deficit with a little more than five minutes to go in the third quarter, the Gators battled back to close the lead to two points in the fourth. The Gators resilience to fight back against a monumental lead was just the nature of their character, according to senior Jen Garcia.

“This game was a big eye opener for us,” Garcia said. “We didn’t give up and we fought like we always do, but we came up just short.”

The Gators hit 11 shots in the second half, as opposed to only making five in the first. The offensive explosion in the second half for the Gators was launched by guard Felicia Villarruel, who hit four 3-pointers. A costly turnover with a minute left in the game was the nail in the coffin for the Gators though, who couldn’t score enough to surpass the Seawolves’ lead.

The night didn’t end how Naila Washington, Tatsiana Dashkevich, Brooke Shimazaki and Garcia envisioned, but nonetheless the emotional seniors said they were grateful for every minute of Gator basketball that they’ve played.

“This moment just means so much – with your family watching you and all the emotion,” Dashkevich said. “We always have the ability to fight and try to win, so this team is just a great family.”

SFSU Gators Guard Tatsiana Dashkevich (14) goes for a layup against Sonoma State Seawolves Guard Madison Burroughs (23) at The Swamp on February 20, 2016. (Connor Hunt / Xpress)

SFSU Gators Guard Tatsiana Dashkevich (14) goes for a layup against Sonoma State Seawolves Guard Madison Burroughs (23) at The Swamp on February 20, 2016. (Connor Hunt / Xpress)

The moment wasn’t lost on Garcia, who said her last game at The Swamp was a rude awakening for the real world ahead.

“Now it’s time to be an adult and go out into the real world,” Garcia said. “I’m going to miss practice. I’m going to miss coaches yelling at me because they care. But now it’s time to go into the real world and pay bills and get a career.”

Cox said he wished the outcome of the game had been different, but he had nothing but the highest of praise for his graduating seniors.

“I’ve coached a lot of great teams, but I’ve never had two captains better than (Dashkevich and Washington),” Cox said. “(Shimazaki and Garcia) came on the team as walk-ons and I didn’t even know if they’d be with the team this year, but they’ve been tremendously supportive the whole year.”

The loss doesn’t knock the Gators out of playoff contention, but their last two regular season games are must wins to try to get into the postseason. SF State’s next game will be on the road against 20th-ranked UC San Diego on Saturday, Feb. 27.

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