Men’s basketball finishes on strong note

Over the past few weekends, the Sonoma State University men’s basketball team has struggled to achieve a win. They have put points on the board, given a decent challenge to opponents, yet they have lacked the execution to win. This past weekend was what the Sonoma State men’s basketball coaches like to call “Sonoma State basketball.” 

The Seawolves started their season-ending journey with a trip down to CSU Dominguez Hills, and the season would end with their final game at CSU Los Angeles. They would lose to the Toros 64-49, but defeat the Golden Eagles 58-48.

On Friday night the Sonoma State Seawolves and the Dominguez Hills Toros faced off in a nail-biting game that would need an overtime in order to determine the winner. Unfortunately, the Seawolves would come up short leaving the triumph to the Toros.

While the past few games for the Seawolves have been troubling, they were able to pull themselves together and give the Toros a challenge with a total of 15 ties throughout the game. That alone should give you a brief insight into what Friday night’s game was like. As both teams would alternate leads, they both played defense too, standing in each other’s way.

In the first half of the game, the Toros scored the first basket of the night, but it wouldn’t be long after that the Seawolves would get a little run, sinking a few shots of their own thanks to seniors Mike Harris and Zen Maki. By the 12- minute mark, the Toros would take a seven point lead against the Seawolves, leaving them with no choice but to fight back. After several possessions of missed shots, turnovers and defensive rebounds, the halftime buzzer would signal the end of the first half. As both teams walked off the court, they would be met with two illuminated red numbers of 25-24, Seawolves.

Just as the first half went, the second half was not much different. Each team remained determined on winning the game. With another tie on the board at 26-26, Sonoma State senior JJ Mina would be fouled, giving him a chance at the free-throw line where he made the score 28-26. Yet, as fast as the score was raised, the Toros were able to tie it up again with a lay-up from sophomore Justin Sadler.

As the teams battled it out for even the smallest lead, the final score would not be determined until overtime. Even though the Seawolves battled till the very end with David Ahern making two lay-ups in the last 20 seconds of the game, it would not be enough to win the game. Instead, the Toros would not only take the lead in overtime, but won the game with a score of 69-64.

 “We aren’t as athletic and we’re injured,” said Assistant Coach Natalie Wisdom. 

Junior James Davis was back out on the court in Friday night’s game for the first time since his injury. Also, fellow teammate Ahern was still dealing with a broken nose. As for their athleticism, the Toros proved that they were more than capable of holding their own, for this is the second time they have beaten the Seawolves.

Upon entering the Eagle’s Nest of CSU Los Angeles on Saturday night, the Seawolves understood this was their last game of the season. There will be no advancing to the playoffs for this year’s squad. While the game was evenly matched, the Seawolves were able to cling to a six-point lead throughout the majority of the game, sending them out with a win in their final game of the season.

“It was a good win,” said Assistant Coach Natalie Wisdom. “They [CSLA] are a good team. Their record doesn’t show it, but they are. They are athletic, they run the floor hard, crash hard and run a lot of cross streams making it hard to guard.”

Even though the Eagles posed as a challenge to the Seawolves that did not stop them from giving it their all and playing as a team. Instead they fought long and hard to keep the lead, only slipping up in the second half for a mere moment before regaining control.

Just as Friday night had gone, both teams played a see-saw game of basketball. The Eagles would score first thanks to senior Aaron Alston. It would take the Seawolves until the 17-minute mark to score, as both teams missed opportunities on ensuing possessions before senior Maki was fouled and sank two free-throw shots to tie up the game. This would be one of the many point-alternating scenarios that the men would see during Saturday night’s game, since neither team would witness a lead larger than eight points throughout the first half.

With three ties in the first half and both teams fast paced offense racking in the points, it came down to free-throws for Sonoma State to take a three-point lead against the Eagles going into halftime.

Walking back onto the court with only 20 more minutes left in the season, neither team was going to give it up easily. That was proven when there were 11 lead changes in the second half. The first lead would be when Eagle’s senior David Hall came in with an exciting dunk at the 18-minute mark changing the score to 30-29.

As the time began to dwindle down neither team would exceed a two-point lead. A free-throw made by Ahern would tie the game up at 43-43. From then on the Seawolves would remain in the lead, jumping out to a three-point advantage. With the Eagles slowly losing control of the game’s outcome and their momentum, it would be the Seawolves to finish the game strong and with a 10-point victory, 58-48.

After a five game losing streak, this win meant more to the Seawolves because it was their last game of the season, and of the careers of four seniors. “They worked really hard,” said Wisdom. “It was nice to see the seniors go out in a nice way.”

While this game had a hiccup or two, the coaches reminded the boys to get out of their heads. 

“We weren’t playing bad,” said Wisdom. “It was just a matter of finishing what needed to be finished. Take better advantages of our shots and reminding them of their opportunities and the little things.”

Now that the men’s basketball season is over, the boys will be taking a little bit of a break before walking back into the Wolves’ Den to get back to work. “During the year you are just trying to help them. During off season you have more of a chance to breakdown problems,” said Wisdom. “We are returning a lot of guys next year, as well as some pretty high-profiled recruits. So, we are going to improve our fundamental skills [and] the little things.” 

This means that, come next season, the Sonoma State men’s basketball team will be ready to take on any challenge that they must face.