The men’s basketball team took the fifth seed into the PacWest Conference playoffs after overcoming the scrappy play by Notre Dame de Namur University on senior night to improve to 21-6 overall on the season. It was their final home game of the season. This marks the second straight year that the Sea Lions have clinched the 20-win mark.
Head Coach Bill Carr said the team’s chemistry has improved over the course of the season.
“I think we know our roles better now than we did in early December,” said Carr. “I think in early December you’re still trying to find your way and everybody’s trying to figure out where they fit in the program and on the team. So I think our roles are established, I think the guys are fine with those roles and playing them really well.”
Seniors Marek Klassen and Hayden Lescault both played the last home games of their college careers. Klassen, who led the team with a game-high 23 points, said Namur’s style of play might have affected their tempo.
“I feel like we haven’t played a team like that in a while, so it was kind of a little bit confronting,” said Klassen. “But we just got to stay composed; we have a lot of seniors and a lot of experience. We have to stay smooth; we just have to stay with our game plan.”
Klassen said they both plan to play overseas after the season ends. If recruited, they will be joining the ranks of three athletes from the men’s basketball program who continued to play after college for the past five years.
“We’re both trying to play overseas after this; everyday we’re trying to get better,” said Klassen. “And even after the season ends, we’re still trying to get better. I think one thing we can both improve on is our leadership on the court—we can’t start games like we did today.”
The Sea Lions shot just 29.6 percent from the field in the first half before improving to 61 percent in the second half.
“We got better teams coming up. Now we got playoffs so we just have to come out and bring it every night,” said Klassen.
Carr said Klassen and Lescault’s leadership has been valuable to the team as they gear up for the PacWest playoffs.
“I’ll talk about all three seniors: Hayden, Marek and Junior [Morgan]. They’ve laid a great foundation here for the future of this program,” said Carr. “What they’ve done and the sacrifices they’ve made will make this program great for the years to come. So we’re very thankful for their time here. We certainly will miss them, but we’ll bring some new guys in and carry on their legacy.”
Over the weekend, the Sea Lions concluded their season after losing to Dixie State 60-76—falling to 21-7.
The opening tip-off for the PacWest playoffs begins on March 5, as the Sea Lions look ahead to play the fourth-seeded BYU-Hawaii University.