Spotlights shone on the starting five as a sea of PLNU students in their “sixth man” t-shirts cheered on the Sea Lions. Hayden Lescault, Marek Klassen, Judd Welfringer, Junior Morgan and Sam Okhotin entered the court before the tip-off during last Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Cal Baptist University. The excitement and anticipation of this great game was heightened by the presence of Fox Sports on Point Loma turf.
With Fox Sports covering the game, players were performing in front of a live audience and for viewers at home. Coach Jordan Courneya said that although the cameras were there, the Sea Lions would have shown up to play regardless.
“You know when you play a team like Cal Baptist who’s 11th in the country, you’re going to get up to that game anyways,” Courneya said.
The momentum coming out of the first half was strong, and Junior Sam Okhotin decided to take matters into his own hands with 18:33 to go when he sank a three pointer. A minute later, teammate Hayden Lescault stole the ball, and Okhotin finished with a put-back. In a short time span of about three minutes he added eight points.
“We usually have a lead coming out of half time, and as a team we wanted to come out with lots of energy. I wanted to come out and help my team the best I could,” said Okhotin.
Okhotin was not the only one who put numbers on the board. Senior Marek Klassen hit three pointers all game.
“It was a tough loss, we lost to them by two the first time that we played them. I went into both games expecting to win, so it was hard losing in the last seconds due to critical errors,” Okhotin said.
The score remained tight for most of the game, and though the Lancers were the first to get on the board, the Sea Lions responded to put themselves ahead for a lead that would last a large portion of the game.
At half they led the Lancers 39-36, and the remainder of the game proved to be a nail biter. In the last three minutes, and after some defensive errors, the team ended the game with a final score of 69-65. Although the Sea Lions took a tough hit, both Okhotin and Klassen said they were appreciative of the support from the stands.
“It’s always great when we have a big crowd come out and support us, and the atmosphere really felt like the homecoming game,” Klassen said.
The men’s basketball team plans on getting back into the win column against Holy Names in Oakland on Jan. 29. You can keep up with live stats at plnusealions.com or by following @PLNUSeaLions on twitter.