Friday, December 31, 2010

Dominguez Hills exacts revenge on Wildcats

CARSON, Calif. – The excitement has been building for the Chico State men’s basketball team’s 2011. But what had been a sweet 2010 for the Wildcats ended on a sour note with a 76-65 loss at Cal State Dominguez Hills Friday afternoon at the Torodome in Carson. Sean Park recorded career highs of 23 points and nine rebounds, but the Wildcats could not sustain enough offense against the 15th-ranked Toros, who sent them home swept in Southern California.

The Wildcats, who fell at Cal State L.A. Thursday, fell to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Damario Sims was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 14 points. Terence Pellum contributed eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

Zareh Zargaryan and Marcquentince Davis finished with 16 points apiece for Cal State Dominguez Hills, which made its final 10 free throws and last four field goal attempts (including three 3-pointers) to salt the game away. The Toros limited Chico State to 29-percent shooting in the second stanza to improve to 9-1 overall and move into sole possession of first place in the CCAA at 5-1.

The Wildcats kicked off 2010 with an improbable upset of eventual National Champion Cal Poly Pomona, stunned the Toros in the opening round of the CCAA Championship Tournament, and then went 7-3 in the 2010 section of this 2010-11 season.

Terence Pellum pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds and scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting.
But the Toros put a dent in that body of work with a win undoubtedly flamed by the fires of retaliation after the Wildcats finished their promising season in such shocking fashion last season.

Payback looked like money in the bank in Friday’s early going as the Toros tore out to a 9-2 lead. Not so fast. Josh Jackson, Park and Sims stuck 3-pointers to spark an 18-6 Wildcats run that gave them their largest lead of the game at 20-15.

It was a costly stint of minutes, however, as the already injury-depleted ’Cats lost Jay Flores to a lost tooth and bloody mouth and Chris Sharp to an injury. Even before that, Park and Roderick Hawkins were playing in pain.

The lead changed hands five times from that point to the end of the half and the Toros went into the break leading 39-37.

The Wildcats tasted the lead for the last time when Sims sank a 3-pointer two minutes into the second half to make it 42-41, but 12 of their next 13 shots were off the mark and the Toros went on a 10-2 run during that eight-minute drought to take control 51-44.

Park’s jumper with 8:19 to go trimmed the lead to five, as did his 3-pointer at the 5:49 mark, but that was a close as the Wildcats could get. The Toros made their last four shots (including a trio of treys), beginning with Robert Wilhite’s 3-pointer with 5:38 remaining, and also made 8-of-8 free throws down the stretch. In all, Cal State Dominguez Hills scored on eight of their last nine possessions.

Chico State will enter the New Year alone in sixth place in the CCAA. The Wildcats hope to improve their lot in January when they play six home games out of eight beginning next weekend when UC San Diego and Cal State East Bay come to town.

]GAME NOTES – The Wildcats have lost nine of their last 11 meetings against Cal State Dominguez Hills but still lead the series 16-14…The Wildcats have come home from weekend road trips in the CCAA winless 32 times out of 58 since they joined the conference in the 1998-99 season…Park’s 23 points came in 28 minutes off the bench. The freshman is currently averaging a team-best 19.8 points per 40 minutes of action…Sims and Park combined to make 6-of-13 threes, while the rest of the team hit only 3-of-18.

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