TURLOCK -- It's a giant achievement for the Cal State Stanislaus women's basketball team to nearly upset the best team in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
The Warriors led most of Friday's game before losing to Cal State San Bernardino 76-71 in overtime.
Warriors freshman Christin Gowan nailed a 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 63-63. Stanislaus then denied Coyotes' leader Vanessa Wilt under the basket twice to necessitate the Warriors' second overtime period in three games.
But Wilt, who has a double-double in all 12 of San Bernardino's games this season, had two put-backs in the final minute of overtime as the Coyotes (11-1, 5-0 CCAA) escaped.
Wilt finished with 25 points and 20 rebounds. She entered the game leading the CCAA with 23.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.
"It hurts because it was right there," Stanislaus coach Sharon Turner-Dean said. "We made mistakes down the stretch, but it's a huge step from Nov. 28 (when CCAA play began) to now.
"In December we would have rolled over."
The Warriors looked like the queens of the CCAA in the first half, hitting their marks on long passes and building a 39-23 halftime lead. Shristy Kumar led Stanislaus (4-7, 2-3 CCAA) with 23 points, including four 3-pointers.
Freshman Katie Busi grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds and had four blocks. She rotated primarily with Rebecca Arent to keep Wilt contained.
Senior Lysandra Williams, second on Stanislaus with 16 points per game, said taking the Coyotes into overtime was "pretty cool."
After being underdogs for so many years -- this was the Warriors' seventh consecutive loss to San Bernardino -- Stanislaus relishes being a surprise contender.
Last weekend the Warriors swept their first home series since the 2002-03 season and are playing at a high level despite the loss of all-CCAA guard Gwen Page, who had surgery on her left knee Thursday.
"It's nice to show people we're here and make a little noise while we're doing it," Williams said. "When Christin hit that shot, it gave the team a lot of energy. Everyone was clicking together. They just went on a run and we didn't stop it quick enough."
Stanislaus hosts Cal Poly Pomona today at 5:30 p.m.
Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.