Friday, November 19, 2010

Wildcats use big second half to beat Academy of Art 73-55 in season opener

CHICO – One thing you can count on almost as much as the sun setting in the west – when the Chico State women’s basketball team’s offense is clicking, it’s very hard to beat. Heading into Friday’s season-opening Coslet Classic matchup with Academy of Art, the Wildcats had won 46 straight and 71 of the last 72 games in which they scored 70 or more points. The ’Cats didn’t score their first basket until nearly five minutes had elapsed, but once the ball started finding the bottom of the net, the ’Cats piled up the points and cruised to a 73-55 victory over the Urban Knights at Acker Gym.

Chico State used a 43-point second half to break open a close contest and register the double-digit win in its first-ever meeting with Academy of Art, dropping the Urban Knights to 0-2 on the young season. It was the Wildcats’ 12th consecutive season-opening victory dating back to 1998-99.

Natasha Smith became the ninth player in Wildcat history to connect for 100 3-pointers in a career.
Courtney Harrison nailed three 3-pointers in the second half to lead the Wildcats with 15 points on the night, while Molly Collins contributed 11 points. Natasha Smith had nine points, five assists and four rebounds, and reached a Chico State milestone by becoming just the ninth player in Wildcat history with 100 career 3-pointers. Jazmine Miller, making her Chico State debut, also scored nine points and dished out four assists, and Pauline Ferrall grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the ’Cats. Academy of Art’s Verity Peets led all players with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats never trailed in the contest – after finally breaking the seal with a Kristin Marquardt layup, Chico State scored 11 of the next 13 points to build a 13-2 lead early in the first half. After Academy of Art pulled to within 15-7, the ’Cats scored seven unanswered points on two Ferrall free throws, a layup by Collins and a 3-pointer by Taylor Lydon to push their advantage to 15. The Urban Knights came back, however – after Smith’s 3-points made the score 30-16, Academy of Art closed out the first half with seven straight points, and the Wildcats had to be content with a 30-23 lead at intermission.

The Urban Knights whittled Chico State’s lead to five with 13:36 to go, but the Wildcats – with Harrison hitting a pair of treys and scoring 10 straight points – ripped off a 12-2 run to go up 55-40 and take firm control of the contest. Academy of Art trailed 55-46 when the ’Cats ended any chance of an Urban Knights comeback – 3-pointers by Collins, Harrison and Smith highlighted 13-3 run that gave Chico State a 68-49 lead with 5:34 remaining. New Wildcat Analise Riezebos applied the finishing touches, using a pair of layups down the stretch to push the lead to 22, and Chico State came away with the 18-point victory.

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