Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s basketball team took down the Concordia-Irvine Eagles at Kellogg Arena at 4 p.m. Nov. 27. The Broncos battled to their third win in a row and improved to 6-2 on the year.
A lot of credit goes to the Broncos’ junior center Leilia Orji and senior forward Kasey Smit, who both combined for 39 of the Broncos’ 68 points and 17 rebounds. Orji scored a season high of 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting in 21 minutes. She was the spark on the team and rallied her teammates up with her performance.
Team effort and encouragement was impactful for the Broncos and head coach Danelle Bishop said that’s what helps win games. She said the Broncos support each other like a family and feels that the team’s bond reflects onto the court.
“It’s exciting (to) see the love that each of these girls (has) for each other. And with it being Thanksgiving, in the locker room, I talked about how grateful and thankful we are for each other and how the game goes beyond basketball,” Bishop said. “These girls have a sisterhood … to see that love and support for each other while they’re out there … it’s pretty awesome.”
Orji had a different mindset going into this game and it showed on the court. She dominated the paint and led the Broncos in points. She gives a lot of credit to her team for supporting her and cheering her on with high energy that she fed off….”
“I feel that today was really good for me because I started off the day poised; I wasn’t focused on ‘Oh I need to do this, I have to do this.’ I changed that mentality from ‘need to, have to’ to ‘want to’ and I made it so much easier to play my game,” Orji said.
Orji’s performance radiated on her teammates and helped them perform better as well. Smit was just behind Orji with 19 points and earned her second double-double with 11 rebounds.
Senior starting point guard Jackie Ricketson nearly had a triple-double performance, scoring 11 points, dishing out nine assists and collecting 11 rebounds of her own.
“It feels so great (when there’s a spark on the team). We need (Orji) out there and it’s so amazing because it opens so many doors for her to get that many shots,” Smit said. “I think it’s good for her to get those looks to coming into other games; it just builds her confidence even more, so I think it’s good that she had a really good game.”
The defensive effort was a huge factor as the Broncos did not give the Eagles a chance to lead after the first quarter.
The Broncos had eight steals, forced 12 points off turnovers and only allowed 26 points in the paint. They had active hands throughout and controlled the pace of the game.
Bishop saw a lot of improvement on defense from their previous game and is glad to see her team improving.
“I was really proud of them with their effort and really just growing and learning,” Bishop said. “We had our hands up. We were active (and) created a lot of turnovers against Concordia. Obviously, they did a great job, but more importantly, they learned from our last game where we weren’t doing those things; we pulled out a ‘W’ (win against Monterey Bay), but we needed to improve, so it’s great to see that improvement tonight.”
The Broncos will try to protect their home and advance their streak to 4-0 against Humboldt State at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5.
Both teams are undefeated in conference, but only one team will remain undefeated after their matchup.
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