The Cal State Los Angeles women’s basketball team went to war against the Cal State San Marcos Cougars in the Golden Eagles’ final home game of the season on Saturday, January 26.
It was an important night, not only was it the night to honor senior guard Samantha Lee, or a chance to secure the fifth seed in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament with a win. This game marked the first completed season of Cal State L.A. women’s basketball with Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller at the helm as head coach.
“It’s been a rollercoaster because we’re such a young team. We only have one senior and one junior,” Miller said. “It’s been kind of good to see their growth, their personal growth on and off the court.”
Miller coached the young Golden Eagles squad to a 15-13 overall record and an 11-8 CCAA record. The Golden Eagles only lost once at home. As a team, Cal State L.A. scores an average of 63.5 points per game and has a 40 percent field goal average. Lee noted how having Miller as a coach was a “wonderful opportunity.”
“She’s legendary, everybody knows her,” Lee said. “Having her as a coach, it’s amazing. The work ethic she gives is really good.”
The result was a fifth seed in the CCAA championship tournament. Lee led the team with 14 points against Cal State Marcos. Four Golden Eagles scored in the double digits to lead the team to a 68-66 victory.
“It’s always exciting games with these guys,” Miller said. “I’m so glad that they bounce back and got the win.”
During the season, freshmen guard Da’Jah Jackson led the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and junior center Rikke Fabricius led with 6.5 rebounds. Lee was the only senior on the team, leading the team in three-pointers.
The season had monumental moments. On January 21, Miller clinched her 100 career win as a college head coach when the Golden Eagles defeated the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters 70-62.
To start the season, Miller clashed against her college teammate Cynthia Cooper-Dyke as head coaches when Cal State L.A. battled the USC Trojans in an exhibition game.
“Going back to SC, it was nice,” Miller said. “I thought Cynthia’s such a class act and to receive a sweatshirt and a sweat outfit from SC and just to be honored was tremendous.”
Miller notes the endurance the Golden Eagles have and how there had been frequently having close games.
“They roll up their sleeves and go after it,” Miller said. “We still make some young and dumb mistakes, but they are… far and less. We’re becoming a gritty team.”