By Michelle Gardner
Pity the Cal State Stanislaus mens basketball team.
It was the Warriors with the misfortune of squaring off against an angry Cal State San Bernardino team that was embarrassed by lowly Chico State 24 hours earlier.
The Coyotes looked more like their normal selves, walloping the visiting Warriors 89-68 Saturday at Coussoulis Arena. The win put the Coyotes (19-5, 12-4) back in first place by a game over UC San Diego and Humboldt State.
Cal State coach Jeff Oliver admitted Fridays 63-60 loss was the most disappointing in his six-year tenure. The Wildcats were last in the 11-team conference, on an 11-game losing streak, winless on the road and had beaten only two Division II teams this season.
It was a definite blow to the storied program which is less than a year removed from an appearance in the national semifinal.
My mind still isnt quite right, Oliver said. I still cant stop playing that one through my mind. It will sit with me for quite some time. But it wasn ice to come back the way we did.
Players were thinking about it too.
It was real quite in the shootaround today, senior point guard Marlon Pierce said. It was like everyone saw a ghost. We couldnt believe that happened.
The host team sent a message from the opening tip, starting the game with an 8-0 run. The Coyotes also led 24-4 nine minutes into the contest after a 3-pointer by David Reichel.
The Warriors (5-18, 4-12) made a run to cut it to 10 at 27-17 but the Coyotes finished the half with a 19-4 and held a commanding 46-21 cushion at the intermission.
The energy was key, senior Lance Ortiz added. We came out quickly and sent a message. Getting off to a good start helped us settle down.
Several statistics told the story as the No. 18 Coyotes vaunted defense forced 16 turnovers and held the Warriors to 32 percent (8-for-25) shooting from the field. The visitors ended up with 25 turnovers, with the Coyotes ceasing the full-court pressure in the last 15 minutes.
The Coyotes shot 47.2 percent (17-for-36) and had 14 assists with six just turnovers. The ended up 47.1 percent (32-for-68) for the game with Ortiz tallying 17 with eight assists, Pierce 15 and seldom-used reserve Ryan Kinney chipping in with a carfeer high 12.
The Coyotes led by as many as 34 at 65-31 afer a shot by Renardo Bass with 12 minutes left. The game got a little ragged after that with both teams substituting freely. Oliver used 15 players, 11 of whom figured in the scoring.
Today it didnt matter who it was, Pierce added. It could have been San Diego, Humboldt, whoever. We were on a mission.
The Coyotes remain at home to face local rival Cal Poly Pomona Thursday. Cal State lost to their nemesis 66-6 in overtime earlier this season.