On Jan. 12, Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball team secured their fifth road win of the year 68-63, despite being down by as many as 16 points.
The Broncos allowed 38 points and showed some lackluster offense in the first half before head coach Danelle Bishop’s halftime talk reignited their energy.
“We weren’t playing very tough,” said Bishop. “We talked about physicality, toughness and the mental side. I didn’t think we were playing very smart. We just tried to get our players fired up and ready to go for the next half.”
For the Broncos, their defense was met by some impressive shooting from the Wildcats to start off the game. Broncos guard Ally Bates was scoreless in the first quarter as the Wildcats dominated the period, leading 24-12.
The second quarter saw CPP struggling to keep up with the Wildcats’ offense and persistent, red-hot shooting.
Bates’ offensive scoring quickly stepped up a notch and earned the team 10 points, nearly becoming CPP’s leading scorer.
Despite allowing two Wildcats to score in double figures at halftime, the Broncos ended the period on a high note, going on a 6-0 scoring run. With a buzzer-beating jumper from CPP guard Chynna Cochran, CPP headed into the locker room down by 10.
Bates talked about the adjustments that the team made at halftime which involved an improvement on passing the ball around.
“It’s something that we have struggled with in other games,” said Bates. “To move the ball from one side to another, we kind of stuck with one main set, and I think that’s what helped us gain momentum offensively.”
Bates added that Chico State shot well in the first half and came out with more grit and intensity which shocked the Broncos.
The Broncos scored seven unanswered points in a blazing start to the second half. CPP forward/center Ciara James scored six of the seven points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, forcing the Wildcats to call a timeout.
Thanks to a Bates triple off a nifty pass from CPP guard Kalaya Buggs, it was a whole new ball game with the score knotted up at 38.
After the Broncos called a timeout to talk things over at the 4:53 mark of the third quarter, forward/center Donja Payne got her way to the rim and gave CPP their first lead of the night.
Payne recorded 11 points and 13 rebounds in her first game in over a month due to a slight knee tear and talked about how she felt returning from the injury.
“It felt pretty good to come back.” said Payne. “It was rough in the beginning of the game, to be coming off for the first time in like six weeks being out, but it felt good to make some type of contribution and get our groove back.”
The Broncos 18-0 scoring run came to end with five quick points from the Wildcats’ leading scorer, guard Myli Martinez. Chico State’s almost six-minute scoring drought came to an end as they retook the lead 43-40.
The Wildcats then went scoreless the rest of the third quarter as CPP managed to hold them to just five points and ended the period, scoring seven unanswered and leading 47-43.
At the start of the fourth quarter, CPP were met with the Wildcats scoring scored nine unanswered and the game quickly turned into a back-and-forth battle.
Chico State’s forward Jordan Morris got into foul trouble early in the quarter, picking up her fourth foul and leading to her checking out of the game. This allowed Payne to have opportunities to rebound and score inside which the Broncos took advantage of when she scored seven points in the final period of play.
As the final minute of play approached, the Broncos led 62-60. Bates was already having a high scoring night with 20 points, but then she hit a clutch 3-pointer in the corner while she was fouled and nailed the free throw. The Broncos were up by six with 33 seconds to play.
With a last second three unable to fall from the Wildcats, the horn sounded and CPP held off Chico State’s late attempt at a comeback win.
On a night where she played all 40 minutes, Bates finished with 26 points, which tied her season high. After the game, Bates credited Buggs, who led all players with six assists on the night
“It was really exciting,” said Bates. “I think the reason it just happened was just because I had an amazing pass from my teammate (Buggs). It always helps when your teammates can do it all for you.”
Coming into the game, the Broncos had not won at Arthur Acker Gymnasium in Chico, California, since 2019. Coach Bishop not only mentioned that it’s a tough place to compete in, but a tough team to play.
“It’s hard to play here,” said Bishop. “We’ve won here a lot in the past, and it feels really good to win in this gym. Chico, in my opinion, is one of the hardest to go up against. They play so hard the entire game.”
CPP’s next opponent will be Cal State San Marcos, as they will look to improve to a perfect 7-0 on the road this season. Tune into the California Collegiate Athletic Association Network to stream the game, and visit the women’s basketball website for more information.