The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Sure, “optimistic” isn’t the first word that comes to mind if you look at the Coast Conference North women’s basketball standings and see a 2-4 next to the College of San Mateo. But rest assured, Michelle Warner and the Bulldogs believe the glass is half full — and a berth in the postseason isn’t out of the question.
“We’re starting to get some momentum because having bodies back helps, having them play together more now is helping,” Warner said. “It’s only been about five of them that have played together [this season].”
It’s true. Not one player on Warner’s roster has appeared in all 21 contests as the early-season injuries and surgeries have piled up.
“The injuries have put us behind as far as being able to practice together long enough to get some chemistry. And it’s put us behind conditioning-wise because we’re not usually where we are this time of year. So, it’s hard to stay with your better teams for 40 minutes.
“We have more bodies, but not necessarily more 100 percent bodies,” Warner said. “But that’s all you can do. A lot of teams are struggling with seven or eight players this year. It’s an opportunity for other people to step up. I’m very proud of them. Everyday is an opportunity. That’s what we tell them. What are you doing with the opportunity that is given to you? We’re trying to make the most of each day as it comes.”
Part of seizing that day came Wednesday night against Galivan College — a game the Bulldogs really needed if they are serious about landing a playoff spot this season. With Foothill College ineligible for post season play, a second-, third- or fourth-place finish would give the Bulldogs a spot.
Currently, the College of San Mateo sits one game out of that third spot behind Las Positas College.
Step one of that playoff run was accomplished as CSM capped off the first half of the regular season with a dominating 72-40 win against Gavilan
“We have tough conference,” Warner said. “We’re competing for most of the game. We’re just trying to put 40 minutes together. And there are spurts. Even with Foothill, we’re running even with them and then Foothill goes on a run and we can’t match the run for whatever reason. Mentally, they’re crippling themselves. We’re trying to stay more positive. I think it’s piecing together all of the spurts we go on, if we can make them last a little longer and have a little more endurance in the game we should be right there.”
Against Gavilan, the College of San Mateo started the game with an 11-0 run and never looked back, increasing the lead with runs to 17-1, 25-3 and 32-4 before Gavilan finally sank its first field goal with two minutes left in the first half.
Freshman Kate Larson (Notre Dame-Belmont) scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Angalique Gibbs had a double-double as well with 11 points and 14 boards. She also had three blocks. Both players are seeing major minutes with all the CSM injuries.
The Bulldogs controlled the glass with 20 offensive and 25 defensive rebounds.
Vanessa Siega continued an impressive stretch of play. She scored 15 points, had three assists and two steals.
“She just has these spurts,” Warner said of Siega. “My assistant calls her ‘Ghost’ because all of sudden she appears. And, we’re like, ‘Where did that comes from?’ She’ll get a steal and layup. She’s deflecting passes with her long arms. She’s in there rebounding. We see these spurts of greatness that are coming through. If we can keep building on that, keep having that confidence, she’ll do well.”
Freshman Kay Cooper (South San Francisco) was the fourth CSM player scoring in double figures with 14 points.
CSM opens second-round, Coast Conference North play on Friday night at Chabot. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.