ROHNERT PARK -- Last season, junior guard Annie Ward connected for 29 3-point field goals, but with teammates Jazmine Miller and Hannah Womack combining for 106 treys, Ward was frequently overshadowed in any Wildcats' long-distance discussion. That was not the case Friday afternoon in Rohnert Park, as Ward came off the bench to bury five treys and score a game-high 24 points in the 'Cats' 68-44 victory against Notre Dame de Namur to open the Sonoma State-hosted Elsie Darling Classic.
Chico State, ranked No. 9 in the nation, improved to 3-0 with Friday's win and ran its all-time record against Notre Dame de Namur to a perfect 17-0. The Argonauts dropped their fourth consecutive decision on the young season to drop to 1-4 overall.
Ward hit nine of 11 shots from the field – and five of seven from beyond the arc – to finish just one point shy of her career high of 25. Womack nailed a trey and chipped in with 10 points on the afternoon, while Miller scored nine, pulled down nine rebounds and handed out three assists. Analise Riezebos added eight points and grabbed 10 boards; McKenzie Dalthorp chimed in with eight points and five rebounds, with Michelle Walker coming off the bench to haul in nine rebounds. Junior transfer Sarah Rebibo dished out a team-high six assists, with Courtney Hamilton doling out five.
Chico State shot 42.9 percent as a team Friday, and held Notre Dame de Namur to just 28.8 percent shooting in the contest.
The Wildcats opened the game by jumping out to an early 9-5 lead, with Womack supplying a 3-point basket, a three-point play and a pair of free throws. Notre Dame de Namur knotted up the contest at nine apiece, but the Chico State defense stiffened and held the Argonauts to just two buckets in the next 10 minutes. That gave Chico State the opportunity to build an imposing double-digit lead – Ward connected for two 3-pointers and tallied 10 points in the 'Cats' 22-4 run to make the score 31-13. The Wildcats then went through a cold spell of their own, netting just four points in the final six minutes of the period and went into the locker room having to be content with a 35-20 halftime advantage.
Notre Dame de Namur cut the deficit to 11 early in the second half, but with the score 37-26, Chico State effectively put the game away with a 17-7 run, highlighted by a pair of layups by Miller and Walker and punctuated by a Ward 3-pointer to put the 'Cats up 54-33. Two more treys by Ward and layups by Dalthorp and Riezebos ballooned Chico State's advantage to 66-36 with seven minutes to play, and the 'Cats would go on to cruise to a 24-point victory – a jumper by Rebibo wrapped up the Chico State scoring in the 68-44 final.