CHICO, Calif. – Friday’s Chico State-Western Washington game was a rough and tumble, physical contest befitting of two undefeated teams fighting to keep their early-season record unblemished. The No. 6 Vikings led nearly the entire contest, but in the end it was the Wildcats providing the biggest thrills to conclude the opening night of the Coslet Classic-CCAA/GNAC Challenge – with fouls mounting and bodies flying all around the court, the ’Cats defense allowed just one basket in the final 4:46 and used two Monnie Davidson-Mays steals to convert two fast break layups in the final minute to post a huge 75-74 victory at Acker Gym.

With the win, Chico State improved to 5-0 on the season, beating Western Washington for the fourth consecutive time and sixth in the last seven meetings. The Vikings, which shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, were held to under 35 percent shooting in the second period to fall to 6-1 overall.

Courtney Hamiltion tied her career high with 16 points and added five assists to lead the Wildcats. Hannah Womack contributed 13 points, with Jazmine Miller scoring a dozen. Davidson-Mays had a solid all-around game, posting eight points, grabbing three rebounds, and a team-high four steals. Trishi Williams led five Western Washington players in double figures with 14 points. For the game, Chico State shot 44.4 percent, connecting on six of its 12 3-point attempts.

Things did not start out well for the Wildcats, hitting just one bucket in the first 11 minutes as Western Washington raced out to a 13-3 lead. The Vikings pushed their advantage to 15 before Chico State’s offense finally came alive – 3-pointers by Miller and Annie Ward bookended a 7-0 run to pull the ’Cats to within 21-14. Western Washington briefly went back up by double digits, and went into halftime with a 34-26 lead.

The second period was filled with collisions, hard fouls and just plain physical play – so much so that both teams were in the penalty with 11:48 remaining. On the strength of a Womack trey and free throws by Womack, Hamilton and Synchro Bull, the Wildcats narrowed the gap to one at 40-39, only to see Western Washington answer with a 12-6 run to go back up by seven. Four times the ’Cats whittled the deficit to four or fewer, but it seemed every time Chico State made a serious run, Western Washington had an answer. With just under five minutes to play, a Sarah Hill layup gave the Vikings a 67-62 lead.

The Wildcats’ defense then proceeded to clamp down, not allowing a field goal until just before the final buzzer. Five free throws – two each by Womack and McKenzie Dalthorp and one by Miller – knotted up the contest at 67-all; then after Western Washington went back up by a deuce, Hamilton delivered a driving layup to make it 69-apiece. Two Vikings’ free throws made the score 71-69 with 1:49 to play, but a steal by Davidson-Mays led to a Womack layup to once again tie the score with just under a minute left on the clock.

Seconds later, Davidson-Mays forced another Western Washington turnover, this time going the length of the floor for a layup to make it 73-71 – Chico State’s first lead of the game coming with just 46 seconds left. The Vikings missed two shots in an attempt to tie the game, and then were forced to foul Miller, who calmly sank two free throws to put the Wildcats up by four. Corinn Waltrip hit a 3-pointer as time ran out, but it wasn’t enough as Chico State, in come-from-behind fashion, hung on to nip nationally-ranked Western Washington 75-74.