|Seawolves win opener, then reality sets in
Women sweep weekend contests
The Sonoma State men’s basketball team opened California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play with a nail biter Thursday night, Dec. 3. Sophomore guard Steven Pratt went to the free throw line to shoot two shots with the Seawolves trailing Cal State Dominguez Hills by 1. Both free throws went down and SSU secured its first victory of the season, 76-75.
Pratt went down in the first game of the season with an ankle injury and the Seawolves surely missed his presence as they had lost their first four contests. “It was wild out there,” Pratt said. “Missing three games and having to watch from the sideline was definitely tough for me so I was just happy and thankful to be out there with the guys. To walk away with a win, there’s nothing more I could ask for.”
Pratt quickly got back to form with a perfect shooting night from the field and led the team with 23 points. “I was just shooting smart shots,” he said. “I let the game come to me, didn’t force anything. When opportunities were available I took ‘em.”
Freshman forward Jason Walter also contributed significantly with 15 points and went 3x3 from beyond the arc. Overall the team had an outstanding night, shooting at a 52.3 percent clip and hitting 9 of 17 3-pointers.
The Seawolves had lost their first game of the season at the buzzer to Hawaii Pacific and it looked as if this game might go in similar fashion. Despite leading by as many as eight points in the second half, the Seawolves allowed Dominguez Hills to go on a 9-2 run late to get back in the game. After a couple of SSU turnovers, the Toros had a 73-69 lead with just 1:48 remaining.
Pratt was able to draw a foul on a made basket and sunk the free throw to pull the Seawolves within one. Both teams traded buckets and a Toro turnover gave SSU the ball down 75-74 with 16.3 seconds left.
Pratt turned the ball over and the Seawolves were forced to put Dominguez Hills on the free throw line with 9.1 ticks left. Fortunately the Toros missed both free throws to give the Seawolves a chance to clinch the game.
“It is a big monkey off the back, starting the year off winless, but the whole week we made it a big point that those games are behind us and league is a brand new start for us,” said Pratt.
The excitement did not last long, though, as the Seawolves fell to CSU Los Angeles, 77-72, Saturday, Dec. 5.
Coach Pat Fuscaldo commented that it was one of his team’s worst performances in his tenure at the school, where much of the team’s youth and inexperience was exposed. “It’s one thing to put up with freshman mistakes, but there are mistakes you just can’t live with,” Fuscaldo said. “Not running back on defense and getting beat over the top time and time again.”
The Seawolves had two starters out of the lineup because of disciplinary problems and the team seemed to be out of rhythm for most of the game. The team shot just 30 percent in the first half and 38.7 percent for the game. “We couldn’t make open shots, we took too many threes. We should have rode our post game, Kyle Shandera had the biggest game of his life tonight,” Fuscaldo said.
Shandera, the 6-10 senior, had a career high 16 points and freshman guard Sterling Arterberry also had 16 points off the bench.
CSULA started to run on the Seawolf defense and outscored them 17-5 in fast break points. Chris Fields led all scorers with 23 points in the game, Mark Dorsey had 12, followed by Nuno Furtado with 11. The Golden Eagles tried to keep the Seawolves in the game with their terrible free throw shooting, just 11x24, but they made up for it shooting an impressive 54.5 percent from the field.
Next up for the Seawolves (1-5, 1-1) are a couple road games, first against Humboldt State Dec. 12 then a non-conference tilt against Notre Dame de Namur Dec. 15. “(Humboldt State) shoots it well, they run the floor. If we don’t get back in transition against them it will be a turkey shoot,” Fuscaldo said. “If we don’t get better in the next five days, it’s going to be a long weekend for us.” SSU will return home Dec. 22 to again take on Humboldt State.
Lady Seawolves win a pair
The women’s basketball team had two impressive victories over the same schools last weekend. The Seawolves had three players with double digit scoring in their 54-46 win against Dominguez Hills. Senior guard Jennifer Russo led the way with 13 points, followed by senior forward Stephanie Barnes, and junior guard Oly Larkin who each chipped in with 11.
Barnes followed with a career high scoring night of 23 points in the Seawolves 52-41 victory over CSU Los Angeles. Sophomore center Christy Shreve contributed 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds. The two weekend wins put head coach Mark Rigby just three victories away from reaching the 200-win milestone at the school.