CHICO – Heading into Saturday’s matchup with Cal State East Bay, Jazmine Miller was showing signs of shaking her recent 3-point shooting slump. The junior guard snapped an 0-for-13 drought with a trey in Friday’s loss to Cal State Monterey Bay, and followed that up with a “can’t miss” night against the Pioneers, draining a career-high five 3-pointers as the No. 9 Wildcats withstood a furious second-half rally to outlast East Bay 56-50 at Acker Gym.
Chico State improved to 14-2 on the season with Saturday’s win, maintaining its one-game lead atop the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) standings with a 10-2 conference mark. Cal State East Bay slipped to 6-9 overall and 4-7 in CCAA play.
Miller led all scorers with 19 points, with Synchro Bull – making her first start of the season – adding 12 points and four steals. Monnie Davidson-Mays chipped in with eight points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Courtney Hamilton contributed six points and six assists. Brianna Terrance led Cal State East Bay with 14 points.
Chico State led the contest from wire-to-wire, but had problems putting East Bay away, as the Pioneers defense held the Wildcats to 28 percent shooting in the first half. A pair of Miller 3-pointers helped put the Wildcats up early 10-2, and with Chico State displaying some impressive defense of its own, East Bay managed just seven points in the first 15-and-a-half minutes. Another 3-pointer by Miller put the ’Cats up 24-14, but the Pioneers scored the final four points of the period and Chico State had to be content with a 24-18 halftime lead.
Baskets by Miller and Davidson-Mays opened the second half in positive fashion and extended the Wildcats’ advantage to 28-18. East Bay answered by scoring eight of the next 10 points to whittle the lead down to four. Miller promptly connected on a 3-pointer to kick-start a 9-4 Chico State run to put the ’Cats up 39-30 with 11 minutes remaining. The Pioneers continued to push the ball offensively, pulling to within 41-39, but almost as quickly a layup by Hamilton, a Miller 3-pointer and two Bull free throws upped the Wildcats’ lead to 48-39 with 4:55 left.
East Bay made another serious charge, holding Chico State to just two points in the next three minutes to cut the deficit to one (50-49) with 1:58 to go. The Wildcats, though, weren’t going to let a late lead slip away for the second consecutive night – McKenzie Dalthorp hit two big free throws, and then with 34 seconds left, Bull hit a clutch jumper to make the score 54-50. Miller iced the contest with last-second free throws, giving the ’Cats a hard-earned 56-50 victory.