Afterward, there was no need for the Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball players and coaching staff to think this was going to be another long season. It wasn’t like the Warriors experienced much of a challenge before Thursday night’s California Collegiate Athletic Association opener against Chico State.
“It’s only the first game,” Warriors forward Reggie Jones said.
They were reminded of that after letting a double-digit lead slip in the second half before falling 64-59 to a stubborn Chico State team at Fitzpatrick Arena in front of a few hundred people. It was the first time Stanislaus opened the regular season with a conference game.
With 15 minutes left, the Warriors were ahead 46-31.
But the Wildcats never panicked, producing a 17-2 run that gave them back the lead at 51-50 with less than 9 minutes to go. Stanislaus then responded, cutting it down to a 3-point deficit before Marcus Lever — who had been solid all night in a 10-point, six-rebound effort — went up for a layup instead of trying to tie it up with a 3 in the final seconds.
Jones, the reigning California Community College Co-Player of the Year, made a nice debut with 17 points and eight rebounds, but was sidelined by foul trouble early on. Teammate Dan Daviess, another junior college transfer, came off the bench to knock in a couple of 3-pointers en route a 12-point performance, thanks in part to the Wildcats giving him room to shoot.
But those numbers weren’t enough, as Chico State also had three double-digit scorers in Damario Sims (14 points), Terence Pellum and Sean Park, who contributed with 12 points apiece. The Wildcats also benefitted from eight 3-pointers, two of them coming from Jay Flores during their 17-2 spurt in the second half.
The Warriors also hurt themselves by missing eight of 13 free throws.
“I think we made a little charge at the end,” second-year Stanislaus coach Larry Reynolds said. “But I think we were kinda grasping for air, not necessarily because of their run in the second half. They attacked us defensively. We haven’t had that kind of game where a team really got up in us and was able to push us out away from the basket.
“It’s hard to emulate that in practice.”
In fact, the Warriors played only two exhibition games that were won by a combined score of 209-104. They resume conference action on Dec. 3 after next week’s Menlo College Tournament in Atherton, which will help Stanislaus grow.
“We have to put this one behind and move on and get better the next game,” Daviess said.
But the game looked promising for the Warriors, who were down by as many as seven points before taking a 20-18 edge after Daviess’ second 3-pointer with 6:17 left in the first half.
Stanislaus continued to surge, owning a 13-point lead early in the second half before things began to fall apart against a Chico State team with four returning starters.
“I think our inexperienced showed a little bit down the end,” Reynolds said. “We haven’t played together long enough.”
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