By Shannon Cole
The City College Rams made it look easy on Feb. 5 when they handed their rivals of the College of San Mateo Bulldogs an 87-56 defeat on Brad Duggan Court.
When the Rams last met the Bulldogs on Jan. 13, it was a close game. The Rams began the game with a strong offensive push and established a 45-37 lead in the first half. By the third and fourth quarters the Bulldogs dug deeper and deeper into the Rams lead, outscoring them in the last half of the game but failing to overcome them. The Rams narrowly escaped with a 78-72 win against one of their strongest rivals.
This time around, it was a different story altogether. The Rams were determined to show one of their closest rivals how strong they could be, both offensively and defensively.
According to assistant coach Monique Calvello, it came down to discipline over skill.
“The first time we played them, we were kinda disappointed with how close it was. Our whole preparation was to really give it to them this time,” Calvello said. The Rams never allowed the Bulldogs to come close to taking the lead, holding them to at least a two-point deficit the entire game.
Revisiting an old opponent this late in the season also made easy work for the coaches when it came to planning the game’s strategy.
“They’ve got some good-sized girls, so boxing out and staying out of foul trouble was the smartest decision for us,” Calvello said.
Slowing down the pace of the game and keeping their play tight also allowed the depth of the Rams bench to shine. Normally relied on for the majority of her team’s rebounds, sophomore center Danielle Palmer also netted three of her six three-pointed attempts, earning herself 18 points for the night.
Freshman guard Gabrielle Vigil again led the team in scoring, earning 21 points on Friday night, just above her season average of 20.9.
“It was a good team win, everyone was so involved, which really opened it up and they didn’t know who to stop,” Vigil said. ““They start to come at me and overplay me, and that opens up my teammates. But if they overplay my teammates, then I get my open looks.”
Having teammates who can be counted on is vital to the chemistry of this Rams team.
“We’re reaching the peak of where we want to be at the perfect time, heading into playoffs,” said coach Calvello. “This is kinda the chemistry we’re really happy to see with the girls, especially given that playoffs are two weeks away”
For the coaching staff, those two weeks will be spent continuing to improve the Rams’ game and prepare them for a strong playoff run. Calvello says they will be “fine tuning all the nitty-gritty stuff: turnovers, more shots, better shot selection, defense, just going back over the fundamentals.”
But really, it’s all about discipline. There’s no doubt the Rams have skill, but even Calvello believes the biggest improvement this already-stellar team can make is increasing their control.
“Discipline,” Calvello said. “Try to stay down, don’t try to steal everything, be patient, and usually it just falls into our hands—if we’re patient.”
The Rams will look to complete their already perfect season in conference play when they face San Jose, Ohlone, and Las Positas one more time before playoffs begin on Feb. 24.
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