The women’s basketball team traveled north to face the Dominguez Hills Toros on Thursday and traveled west to take on the Cal State Los Angeles Eagles on Saturday. The Broncos beat both teams earlier in the season, and looked to repeat the same results.
The Broncos were at a size disadvantage against the Toros, and struggled to grab rebounds over their tall defenders, especially having their 6-foot-tall starting center Leilia Orji exit the game early in the first quarter due to reinjuring her knee from the previous week. However, the Broncos managed to outweigh the scales by hustling for steals and running the floor for open shots. They had 11 steals and 21 points off turnovers.
With the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship tournament coming up in March, the Broncos played extra hard Thursday night to show their strength. Head coach Danelle Bishop liked the hustle her team displayed, and the way the players fought for the lead down the stretch.
“Our team just battled. Dominguez (Hills) is huge, we got outrebounded, but I can’t say our players weren’t working hard and battling,” Bishop said. “We did a ton of good things, we forced them to 22 turnovers, we had 18 assists and shared the ball … considering it wasn’t our best shooting night.
“We just grinded it out, and I think our team is really trying to focus on our long-term goal …. We’re really trying to be in the NCAA tournament, so they’re fighting and they’re working. I’m really proud of them,” Bishop said.
“The steals were definitely a big thing and in a lot of them, we were being really greedy and getting to the right spots,” Ricketson said. “We were trying to anticipate and jump the lanes. Jayda had a really big steal at the very end of the game …. It was good that we had our hands up, especially because they were a bigger team and we need to have a big presence, and I think that we did that really well.”
The victory against the Toros clinched a spot for the Broncos in the CCAA tournament beginning on Tuesday, March 3. Smit, who has been a huge factor during the entire season for the Broncos, expects her team to do well in the tournament and continue to be successful.
“I expect us to still play good and learn from our mistakes. Even if we get frustrated, we have to continue to keep playing and grinding it out,” Smit said. “Because from here on out, we’re only growing, no (setbacks), and I expect a lot from us. We should be able to be good.”
Against the Eagles, the Broncos continued their eager efforts to win. They outscored the Eagles 56-52, outrebounded them 38-29 and picked off 10 steals. Ricketson had five of the team’s steals and led the team with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Smit achieved another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Broncos made 13 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds, even with Orji sitting out. This was a great team win for the Broncos as each player contributed in some way.
The Broncos are building confidence and look prepared to do well as they get closer to entering the championship tournament. The Broncos will be back home in Kellogg Arena to get their first take on Cal State East Bay at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
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