Women’s basketball stands one slot away from CCAA conference playoffs

A strong first half of the season has the SF Gators poised for a successful finish; the women’s basketball team currently stands at 11-9 overall and 7-7 in the CCAA.

The second half of the season began with an 82-80 win over Cal State Stanislaus and a close 67-66 defeat by Chico, putting them in a three-way tie for seventh place.

“So far we have had a really good learning season,” said guard Katie Batlin regarding how the team has been doing so far in the season. “We started out really strong and are heading into a really solid part of the rest of the season.”

This year, the CCAA has changed the format of their annual conference tournament for both men’s and women’s basketball.

Instead of the previous eight-team format, the CCAA is cutting it down to where only the top six teams make the tournament. The top two seeds in the conference will get first-round byes while the third and sixth, and the fourth and fifth teams play each other.

SF State is currently tied with Cal State Stanislaus and Humboldt State in the standings, and only a game behind sixth place UC San Diego.

All tournament games will take place at the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. from Thursday, March 6 through Sunday, March 8.

This weekend, SF State will host Cal State LA Feb. 7 and Cal State Dominguez Hills Feb. 8. The Gators look to sweep the season series with Cal State LA as they defeated them earlier in the year.

“As long as we continue to play with a better defense, I think we can win a lot more games,” said guard Angela Van Sickel. “Right now we are focused on Dominguez Hills.”

With many excellent shooters, the women’s basketball team should be able to strongly overcome their past shortfalls at the free throw line.

A point of emphasis before the season was their free throw shooting. The Gators have improved on the poor free throw shooting, which plagued the team the last couple of years. They’ve also greatly improved on free throws, according to Van Sickel.  They have been diligently performing specific free throw drills and have improved their free throw percentage from previous years.

Still at a below average 65 percent, it’s still an improvement on the sub-60 percent the team has shot the last two years.

With multiple new team members and improvement on shooting, the SF Gators are trying to improve on their 8th place finish last year.

“The biggest thing to focus on is protecting our home court,” said head coach Joaquin Wallace.  “We have to (focus on) one game at a time.”