University Park, IL,
03
April
2020
|
06:25 PM
America/Chicago

Women's and Men's Basketball Reviews

While current sports have been cancelled or delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaguars can reflect on the edge-of-your-seat excitement that took place during the Women's and Men's Basketball seasons. 

Women’s Basketball Earns First Postseason Berth

The Governors State women's basketball team was beset with injuries in 2019-20—at times having only five available players—and yet the Jaguars qualified for their first Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.

GSU finished eighth in the CCAC standings with a 9-13 mark while compiling an overall record of 12-19. GSU’s season ended with a CCAC Quarterfinal loss to Saint Xavier.

"I'm happy for our seniors to be part of history, the first team to make the postseason," said GSU Head Coach Tonishea Mack. "I want that to be the standard, an expectation for us as we shoot for the goal of winning the conference tournament."

GSU's postseason hopes took a blow before the first game was played. In September, GSU coaches learned that two-time All-CCAC selection Amber Brooks would not be available for the upcoming season after she suffered an injury in preseason conditioning. Brooks was GSU's all-time leading scorer and the top rebounder in the NAIA a year ago. GSU lost starter guard Angelique Cowan in the season opener, and two weeks later, starting forward Tabetha Jones went down with a season-ending injury. In addition, starting guard Ariana Dampier was sidelined with an injury for two months, but returned for the final nine games and finished her career as the team's all-time assists leader.

Sharnita Breeze recorded the second-highest scoring average (16.6) in team history, earned CCAC Player of the Week honors and finished as the team's top scorer in 14 games before she departed the squad in early February.

GSU also received contributions from Hydeia Thomas, who was named All-CCAC Honorable Mention. Thomas turned in a career-best season as her scoring average rose to 12.3 points per game. She made a team-high 30 starts and recorded six double-doubles.

The backcourt duo of Crystal Mathis and Kaitlin Adams gained significant playing time as transfers. Mathis produced four games of 20-or-more points while Adams led the Jaguars in assists (67), steals (73) and blocks (23).

Despite being short-handed, Governors State recorded significant victories, defeating NCAA Division II Purdue Northwest and recording first-time wins versus CCAC foes Judson and Cardinal Stritch. Against Stritch, GSU rallied from 15 points down with 12 minutes to go. GSU also welcomed IU Northwest into the conference with a 62-59 overtime win at the ARC.

In the end, Mack didn't want injuries being an excuse with her team.

"We developed a mindset, that whatever numbers were available—whether it was five, six, eight or nine players—we had enough to compete with. That's what we preached to our players. It became more about showing up and playing hard to get the results we wanted."

Men’s Basketball Posts Third-Straight Winning Season

Even the most ardent Jaguar fan needed a game program when the 2019-20 men's basketball season opened October 25. The GSU roster was filled with nine newcomers and one returning starter. Yet despite the new faces, GSU produced a winning record (17-13) and qualified for postseason play for the third consecutive season.

Coach Tony Bates' squad jumped out to a 5-1 record and captured its first-ever tournament title with a 97-81 win over Goshen in the Jaguar Tip-Off Classic. Senior Justin Siorek was named the tourney's most valuable player and finished his fourth season as GSU's all-time leader in games played (123), minutes played (3,488) and three-pointers made (279). He became the fourth member of GSU's 1,000-points club and concluded with 1,203 points, the second-highest total all-time.

Governors State won its first two conference games en route to a 12-10 record in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). As the eighth seed, GSU lost at fourth-ranked Olivet Nazarene in the CCAC Tournament Quarterfinals on February 26. Prior to the tournament, GSU closed the regular season by winning three of four games.

A quirk in scheduling saw the Jaguars play 10 of 14 games inside the Athletics & Recreation Center during a two-month stretch (Nov. 16-Jan. 18). During that time GSU produced a season-best six-game win streak, averaged 96.7 points per game and scored 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time ever. The streak started with a hard-fought 83-77 overtime win at Lincoln (which joins the conference in 2020-21) and was followed by a dramatic 85-83 win over IU Northwest, made possible by Sterling Field's game-winning basket scored with two seconds left. Equally impressive was the 128 points put up against East-West, the second-highest score in team history.

"I'm really proud of the run we went on for those six games, quite a few of them were on the road and we played well in critical stretches," said Bates, who led the Jaguars to an 11-3 record at home.

Providing the spark behind GSU's offense was the senior backcourt of Chris Pride and Johnathan Boatright. Pride averaged a team-high 19.2 points per game and earned All-CCAC Second Team selection. He scored 32 points against St. Francis on December 14 and tallied 20-or-more points on 12 occasions. Pride's .864 success rate from the free throw line was also a new school record. Boatright, who was sidelined the first half of the season, returned in January to give the Jaguars 17.1 points per game as the second-highest scorer on the team.

Junior small forward DeAndrey Robinson II earned All-CCAC Honorable Mention after starting a team-high 28 games while leading the Orange and Black in rebounding (236) and blocks (24).

"Overall, we had peaks and valleys but it was another winning season," said Bates. "Because we had so many new players, it was important for us to develop chemistry. I think we have some things to look forward to going into next year."