Gators ferocious defense paves way for OT win

SF State overcame an 8 point halftime deficit to defeat California State University, Stanislaus in an overtime thriller, 77-72, that saw five ties and 13 lead changes.

The Swamp was lively as the Gators started the game on a 7-0 run, holding Stanislaus scoreless for the first six minutes of the game.

SF State Gators’ sophomore guard/forward Chiefy Ugbaja (white) goes for a layup against Stanislaus State Warriors’ junior guard/forward Kaelen Mitchell (red) during Gators’ 77-72 win over the Warriors at the Swamp on Friday Feb. 3, 2017 (Lee Kin/ Xpress).

Stanislaus fought their way back with a barrage of 3s and easy baskets. Halfway through the first half, the Gators found themselves down by as many as 13 points despite the quick start.

The Gators struggled to make layups and execute easy shots, shooting a dismal 29 percent shooting average at the half.

“We started the game off with great energy, but then we quit, we stopped playing for about 20 minutes” head coach Paul Trevor said. “Then in the second half we woke up and really brought it.”

The Gators looked like a new team in the second half with increased defensive pressure. They scored 18 points off of turnovers as the bench helped spearhead the movement with 33 points of their own.

“A lot of us had bad games, but we had other guys step up,” junior guard Warren Jackson said.

Jash Kahlon had the hot hand in overtime. He electrified the fans in purple and gold by starting off the extra period with a 3 from the top of the key.

It was all in the family as his brother, AJ Kahlon’s following layup gave the Gators a five-point lead.

But the game was far from over as Stanislaus went on a 5-0 run to tie the game up. With minimal time left, Jash Kahlon found the ball in his hands again and hit another crucial 3 to take a 73-70 lead. The Gators would not give up the lead again.

“Jash really came through and hit some clutch 3s for us in crunch time,” Jackson said.

Stanislaus entered the game with a 6-14 record, but gave the now 17-3 Gators everything they could handle. Despite being the underdog, Stanislaus was able to keep the game close by playing tough defense, knocking down three pointers, and playing hard on both ends of the ball.

“In our league, top to bottom, anybody can beat you on any given night,” senior guard Coley Apsay said. “They’re well coached, they’re physical, and they rebound the ball well.”

The Gators next test will come Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 in The Swamp.