TURLOCK — Cal State Stanislaus decided not to have a cake on hand Saturday night in case the women’s basketball team managed to notch the 500th win in program history.
And such is the mentality around this team, which isn’t concerned about how many games were won at the berth of the program 38 years ago, and don’t dwell on the past two lean years.
The Warriors got the win, using another second-half explosion to subdue UC San Diego 65-59, and in doing so added to their own impressive numbers in the present.
Stanislaus is 12-8 overall and 9-7 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, which means it will enter the final six games of the regular season tied with Cal State East Bay for fifth place, and in control of its own postseason destiny.
“What fueled us tonight was knowing how we played the last two weekends – those four games we lost,” said Pitman High’s Jasmine Washington, who led all scorers with 19 points. “We really wanted the wins this weekend and we got after it.”
What worked for the Warriors this weekend was the same thing that has fueled their remarkable turnaround from last year’s two-win season. Stanislaus plays an up-tempo pace from the opening tip that is as fast as anyone in the CCAA.
And because this is a league that builds a schedule based on playing back-to-back nights, the ability to maintain that pace for 80 minutes over two nights gives them an advantage.
“It’s a little tough on everybody, but that’s our calling card,” said coach Wayman Strickland. “It’s tough for people to prepare to play us.
“You have to decide what type of team you’re going to be and run with it. Our style is contrary to everybody else in the conference and it causes a lot of problems. We’re happy to cause those problems.”
On the other hand, since the Division II college basketball season is a 26-game marathon, is it practical to play each game in a sprint? And the Warriors spend the last two weekends battling through the wall?
“I think our performance the last two weeks was all mental,” Washington said. “We didn’t play to our potential and we crumbled. We had a hard week in practice and wanted this all week really bad.”
On the other hand, there was little doubt that the Tritons (11-9, 8-8) looked very much affected by the pace, especially after losing the previous night at Chico State.
UC San Diego missed its first 21 3-point attempts, and finished two of 26 from behind the stripe – finally connecting only after Stanislaus had built a 13-point lead with 2:20 remaining.
After a very close game throughout, the Warriors won with a single elongated spurt, holding the Tritons scoreless for 4:35 in the stretch run. Washington had six points during the UCSD drought and Ana Burch added five as Stanislaus turned a 45-44 deficit into a 58-45 lead with 2:17 remaining to notch the programs first season sweep of the Tritons in 11 years.
Lauren Godde had 13 points and Briana Cotton added 11 for the Warriors, who now must take their frenetic game on the road for two weeks. How they play in those four games will determine if they come home at the end of the month with a chance to clinch a playoff berth.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to play good basketball and see where the chips landed,” Strickland said. “We’ve done that and the chips have come up red more often than not.”