The Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball team took on No. 12 West Texas A&M in Orange on Friday for the start of its three-game, back-to-back -to-back preseason opener.
The unranked Broncos upset West Texas A&M by 15 points with a final score of 73-58. The Broncos shot exceptionally well as a unit, shooting 42.2% from the floor, 45.5% from behind the arc and 75% from the free throw line, with five players scoring in double figures. Both senior starting forward Kasey Smit and senior starting point guard Jackie Ricketson led the Broncos, combining for 35 points.
Despite the Broncos having many injuries last season, they have been training all summer, getting stronger and preparing for games like Friday’s.
“Our players have been working all summer, improving that shot. And, obviously, I think the hard work has paid off,” head coach Danelle Bishop said.
Smit played 36 minutes and she gave her team a lot of credit for moving the ball around and creating open shots for her. She finished with a game high of 18 points off 7 of 12 shots, including 3 of 6 shots from behind the 3-point line. She feels that her conditioning and weight lifting in the offseason greatly prepared her for this game and improved her shooting performance.
“Things were very different for me because I’ve been working on my shot and making sure it’s in the right form. The team did a really good job with ball movement and knowing who has the hot hand and who doesn’t,” Smit said. “Conditioning on the court and working out over this summer and continuously working every day is going to help us out.”
The Broncos had the disadvantage in size as West Texas A&M had five players 6 feet or taller, with senior post player Tiana Parker, 6 feet, 5 inches, being the tallest compared to the Broncos’ tallest players, junior center Leilia Orji and forward Smit, both standing at 6 feet.
Bishop praised her players for battling through a bigger team and showing heart over height play style as they were down by four points in the first quarter and pushed ahead throughout the game.
“We played the No. 12 team in the nation. They were bigger than us and they are traditionally a really good team,” Bishop said. “So for our first game out and having a ton of injuries this year, I was really pleased with our effort and how we competed and battled back and forth.
“Having senior leadership and players that have played together is great. Having Jackie Ricketson back (at that point guard spot) — having to sit out for us last year — was really nice.”
Ricketson scored 17 points and played 36 minutes coming off an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear last season. She fought through discomfort and pain to guide her team to victory. Even though the other team was bigger, she feels her team did a great job of controlling the pace and locking in.
“It felt pretty good. I was really trying not to focus on it while we were playing and it felt good until I sat down. I was like, ‘OK. Yeah, it’s there.’ But it didn’t really hurt,” Ricketson said. “I think we did a really good job of focusing on sticking to the plan. We had to make a lot of adjustments and I think we did a good job of controlling them from going on good runs and holding their ground.”
The Broncos continued their early success as they defeated the unranked Montana State Billings Yellowjackets in a close 67-65 match on Saturday.
The Broncos finished out their three-game opener Sunday, falling 63-68 to Canada’s Simon Fraser University.
This week, the Broncos will compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association/PacWest Challenge.
The Broncos will have their home game opener against Point Loma at 5 p.m. Friday. They will then head to Felix Event Center in Azusa to take on the No. 4 Azusa Pacific University at 5 p.m. Saturday.
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