Broncos fall to Wildcats 78-80

Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s basketball team hosted the Chico State Wildcats at Kellogg Arena on Thursday, which was also faculty/staff appreciation night. The Broncos’ conference record going into this game was 11-6, while the Wildcats’ conference record was 8-8. 

This matchup was a test for the Broncos as the Wildcats came out aggressively and played at a fast pace.

The Broncos held things down in the first half of the game. The team was blocking out players and dominating the rebounds even without its center Leilia Orji, who was out due to a knee injury. 

Seniors Quinesha Vanhook and Kasey Smit both stepped up to the challenge, and each played an impressive game.

Vanhook had a career high of 16 points off 8-for-11 shooting, and had six rebounds and two assists. She lifted a lot of weight off the team’s shoulders when the Wildcats were slowly cutting in.

“I feel like we came out strong, especially in the first half. I think at halftime we were up about 12. We had a couple of setbacks in the third quarter, which helped them tie the game and they regained the lead,” Vanhook said. “In the fourth quarter we battled with them, and it was a tight game. A couple of calls didn’t go our way, but it’s definitely a hard game because I feel like we should have won it. I felt like my teammates and my coaches believed in me and they were putting me in the position to score, but it doesn’t really mean anything when we don’t win.”

The women’s basketball team is now 11-7 in conference, with an overall record of 15-9. (Nouk Keovyphone | The Poly Post)

Losses are always hard for a coach, but this loss was especially hard on head coach Danelle Bishop because the game took a turn in the end. 

She is proud of Vanhook and Smit’s efforts down low. They were a significant part of the 40 total points in the paint, 21 second-chance points and 53 total rebounds compared to the Wildcats’ 31 total rebounds.

“(Vanhook) was ready to go, ready to play. We had our starter (Orji), who has been out all week with a knee (injury). (Vanhook) stepped up big time and we were able to count on her tonight, so I thought she did a really good job,” Bishop said. “(Smit) is playing really well right now and she’s working so hard all the time, and we need her to score, we need her to rebound, so she’s definitely doing what we need her to do.”

Smit earned another double-double to add to her resume with 21 points and 12 rebounds. She feels she learned a lot from this game and sees it as a way to improve on the next game.

“I think there’s stuff that we could have controlled, like especially being smarter with whatever the refs were throwing at us,” Smit said. “We should have been able to adapt and realize what we need to work on instead of what the refs are going to do to us. We need to keep those leads and just get after it. It was a really tough game and Chico had really good runs, really good fast-break layups that we should have capitalized on.”

Senior point guard Jackie Ricketson played hard and showed great hustle throughout the game. 

Ricketson was fouled hard many times on both grabbing big rebounds against taller defenders and diving for loose balls. 

She had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. She was two assists away from getting a consecutive triple-double.

It was a frustrating and tough loss for the Broncos, but it was an experience they needed in order to dig deeper for the rest of the season with only four games left. 

The Broncos will take on the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros at 5:30 p.m. Thursday on the road. 

The Broncos earned a 70-63 victory over the Toros in their previous matchup in January.

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