The Gators’ women’s basketball team lost to No. 2 UC San Diego, 77-55 on SF State’s Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Four SF State seniors were honored before they played their last regular season home game. Forwards Jhaina Stephens and Danielle Palmer, along with guards Toni Ewards and Amani Alexander were greeted with flowers and cheers from their family and loved ones prior to tipoff.
“It was weird,” Palmer said. “This is our family. We had a positive season no matter the win-loss. It feels weird that it’s almost over.”
In the first quarter, the Gators came out with intensity. Four minutes into the period, the Gators jumped to an early 12-6 lead on the No. 2 team in the country.
However, the Tritons battled back, going on a 15-9 run to close the quarter and led 21-18 at the end of the first.
“We didn’t care about their statistics,” Alexander said. “We didn’t care about them being second in the country. We don’t look at any of that. We go out and play.”
From the halfway-mark of the second quarter on, UC San Diego took control.
Despite shooting 38 percent from the field in the first half, the Tritons used the three-ball to their advantage, converting at a 46 percent clip. SF State hit just 1-of-5 from deep in the first half to UC San Diego’s 6-of-13 mark from behind the arc.
At halftime, the Tritons led 42-29, outscoring the Gators 21-11 in the second quarter.
“Once you become fatigued mentally, you take a step back,” head coach Natasha Smith said. “You can’t take a step back off of great shooters and they have a bunch of them.”
Smith returned to the sideline for the Gators after missing Thursday’s game versus Cal State San Marcos for personal reasons.
The game began to slip away from the Gators in the third quarter. A 10-0 run put the Tritons up by 23, their largest lead of the game.
With the clock winding down in the third, Edwards dribbled up the ball and shot inside half-court just as time expired. Her family and friends who had T-shirts with her picture on them cheered in excitement as the half-court heave hit nothing but net.
“A lot of our families don’t live here,” Edwards said. “When they come here, you want to play for them and it’s their first time seeing you.”
Family members came from the other side of the country to support Edwards in her final home game at SF State.
“My brother came from New York and it’s his first time seeing me besides watching me online,” she said. “It’s a whole different experience for him. You just play for your people.”
In their final game at The Swamp, the seniors were responsible for 38 of the team’s 55 points.
“I think we just play well together,” Palmer said of her three senior teammates.
Though it was a road game for the Tritons, there were many UC San Diego supporters in the stands. It nearly felt like a home game for one of the top teams in the nation.
UC San Diego was tabling merchandise such as shirts, towels and other Triton apparel.
Head coach Smith did not take this lightly.
“What really made me mad was that they were tabling at the entrance,” Smith said. “You see UC San Diego representatives handing stuff out which makes [us] feel like this is not [our] home.”
The Gators have two road games remaining on the season. They face Chico State in Chico, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m and Humboldt State in Arcata, Calif. on Saturday, March 2.