The lady eagles end the season with a ‘bang’

In+his+first+year+as+head+coach%2C+Torino+Johnson+led+the+Cal+State+LA+women%E2%80%99s+basketball+team+to+a+12-16+record%2C+three+more+wins+than+the+previous+season.

Darwin Lopez

In his first year as head coach, Torino Johnson led the Cal State LA women’s basketball team to a 12-16 record, three more wins than the previous season.

George Garcia, Staff Reporter

It was an exciting game from the tip-off as the Cal State LA women’s basketball team played “Senior Day” spoilers at “The Swamp” on Saturday. They defeated the San Francisco State Gators 99-46, marking their highest scoring total of the season. The black and gold closed the 2019-2020 season with consecutive road victories and an overall record of 12-16. 

From the outset, the Golden Eagles pummeled the Gators, outscoring them 32-8 in the first quarter.  Cal State LA caught fire from three-point range, making 8-13 attempts and closed the quarter shooting 52.7 percent from the field. 

There was a scary sequence two minutes into the first quarter for Sydney Bordonaro, as she was inadvertently hit by an elbow that raised a welt on her left cheek almost instantly. After being examined by the team physician, she checked back into the game and immediately went to work, scoring four of her seven threes after the blow. 

After the game, Bordonaro said the elbow “fired” her up. “I felt a sense of urgency after I got [hit]; I wanted to go crazy,” she said. 

Bordonaro was nothing short of sensational as she finished the game with 23 points on 8-18 shooting from the field, seven of those from deep. 

After a string of what she called “bad games,” Bordonaro said she  was “extremely happy” with the team’s performance and the willingness of the coaching staff to “let us just play, have fun and it was great that all of our seniors were able to go out with a bang.”  

She also got some contributions from her teammates. The twin tower duo of Rachael DiRegolo and Rebeccah DiRegolo took over the second half as the Golden Eagles overpowered San Francisco State in the paint. They combined for 32 points. Rachael led both teams with a career high 20 rebounds while adding 4 blocks. Mackenzie Barnes followed suit with 16 boards of her own, marking her personal best.

The consistent defensive intensity and ball movement allowed the Golden Eagles to sustain their lead throughout the game. Head coach Torino Johnson was very vocal on the bench. He yelled out defensive rotations and called for downhill running on fastbreak opportunities, which eventually flustered the Gators. 

The Golden Eagles dominated in every statistical category, including some incredibly important bench scoring with 43 points. The Golden Eagles got 20 points off turnovers and 28 second chance points, which never allowed the Gators to get back in the game. 

At the half Cal State LA led 53-19, and after three quarters they increased the lead to 79-30 and never looked back. 

Johnson was pleased and excited with his team’s performance. “Our last [few] games, I’ve felt we’ve been playing to the best of our abilities from the offense and defensive standpoint,” he said. 

Johnson credited the good performances to close the season to his players’ “intensity, motivation, and vocal leadership.” 

In his first season as head coach of the Cal State LA women’s basketball team, Johnson was most proud of the “culture and solid foundation” he has been able to establish. 

Johnson expressed his urge to “hit the road with the recruiting process,” hoping to bring a “new style of basketball that will be exciting and entertaining.” He described it as a “fast pace, in your face, confrontational defense.” In addition, he referenced not backing down and taking on all challenges with the hope of “speeding up the game to be more entertaining.” 

Despite their lateseason heroics, they needed three straight victories and a few favorable outcomes on the last day of the season if they were going to make the postseason. The lady eagles missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Cal State LA finished 10th in the conference, which was where it was predicted to finish in the preseason poll. In spite of their record, Johnson and his squad improved on last season,  posting a better record and increasing their win total by three wins.