High hopes for Women’s Basketball

Grady Duggan

The future of the Sf State’s women’s basketball team dominated a week meant to recognize departing seniors. After coming off of one of the more successful seasons in 2018, the 2019 team had a tough time sustaining success – finishing with a 1-24 record. The Gators ended the season by dropping their final two home games. First, losing to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday, Feb. 27 85-78 and then being defeated on Saturday, Feb. 29 99-46.

Despite a disheartening season, there is reason to believe brighter days may be on the horizon for the women’s basketball program. On a 12 person roster, there are only two players who won’t be on the team next year due to graduation. An even bigger reason for optimism is that the teams top three performers were all underclassmen. 

Muirae Gomez, a freshman from Sacramento, Calif., was impressively the top performer for the SF State women’s basketball team this season. Gomez, who played in all 25 games this year, averaged 11.6 points per game while also tallying an average of five rebounds a game. 

Sophomore Taimane Lesa-Hardee was a key contributor this season. The only player to start all 25 games, Lesa-Hardee put up an average of 11.5 points, 2.3 assists and almost two steals a game. She wasn’t the only sophomore to help carry the Gators this season. 

In her second year at SF State, Madison Corder was another key part of the trio for the Gators. Corder also averaged 11 points per game but was one of the more effective players rebounding, averaging 6.9 throughout the entirety of the season. Corder also recorded back-to-back double-doubles in two games earlier this season.  

SF State saw their first and only win come on January 2 in a home game against Cal State San Bernardino. A 25 game season where you only come out on top once can be demoralizing, but the three underclassmen that lead the Gators give reason to believe that a season like the 2019-2020 one won’t be reoccuring anytime in the near future.   

Following her second season at the helm, head coach Natasha Smith will hope these three youngsters can turn their fortunes around soon. During Smith’s first season, she led the Gators to the most wins the program had seen since the 2015-2016 season and even got their first playoff appearance since the 2013 campaign. 

Though the underclassmen often carried the load this season, that wasn’t always necessarily the case. Bay Area native – standing 6 feet 2 inches – junior Kelea Pickeral-Dennis dominated the board when she saw action. Averaging 7.5 rebounds, Pickeral-Dennis will be looked to do the same next year during her senior season. 

It can’t always be a playoff worthy season, and the women’s basketball team learned that this year. But with a young core and the same coaching staff, the program will look to build off continuity and bounce back next year.