By Nathaniel Lastrapes |Staff Writer|
Forty minutes were not enough as the Coyotes suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Chico State Wildcats 73-72 on a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Coyotes led 72-70 with 10 seconds remaining in overtime, after Coyote shooting guard, Jacob Thomas, missed a free throw and gave the Wildcats one more opportunity to tie or take the lead.
The Wildcats swung the ball around the perimeter to their point guard, Mike Rosaroso, for a wide-open three-point basket that he nailed at the buzzer, securing the victory for the Wildcats.
“We played terrible,” said Coyote’s head coach Jeff Oliver. “We didn’t play as a team on either end of the floor.”
The Coyotes started the game out strong, leading 6-0 early and eventually went into halftime with a 34-25 lead against the Wildcats.
Thomas led the Coyotes with 29 points, but they were not enough to lead the team to victory.
The Coyotes keyed in on defense, holding Chico State to only 25 points in the first half and held them to only 31 percent from the field and 1-10 from beyond the arc, but the Wildcats came out after halftime on a mission.
Chico State employed a full court press that got the Coyotes out of rhythm offensively and also had 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
The loss snaps the Coyote’s four-game winning streak and increases the Wildcat’s win streak to an impressive 10 games.
After four impressive wins against San Francisco State, Sonoma State, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Cal State Los Angeles, the Coyotes came into the game against Chico State with confidence, but Chico State executed better down the stretch.
The last time the Coyotes and the Wildcats met, the Wildcats won in an overtime thriller 75-73.
It was a heart-wrenching loss for the Coyotes Thomas’ 29 points were not enough to lead the Coyotes to victory.
The Coyotes had a chance to tie the game when point guard Isaiah Morton was fouled on a three-point attempt with two tenths of a second remaining in overtime, thus awarding him three free throws.
Morton missed the first free throw, sank the second, and intentionally missed the third in hopes a Coyote teammate could make a desperation tip-in to tie the game and send it to a second overtime, but a Wildcat was able to secure the rebound and seal the win.
The Coyotes have another tough game ahead of them on Valentine’s Day against the team with the third-best record in the conference, Cal State Stanislaus, whom they lost to by four points on Jan. 9.
The rest of the season will prove to be a test for the Coyotes, as they have five games remaining during conference play before the conference tournament on March 5.
The Coyotes need to stay focused and concentrate on one game at a time, because it is crucial the team maintains a winning attitude going into the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) tournament.
Oliver was not pleased with his team’s performance, but showed confidence that the team will regroup and finish the season strong.