Visit plnusealions.smugmug.com/Mens-Basketball/2022-2023-Mens-Basketball/PLNU-vs-CSUSB-313-Evan-Olbricht/ to see all photos from the game.
On March 13, Point Loma Nazarene University hosted the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship game between PLNU and California State University San Bernardino.
Entering with a 25-game win streak, hopes were high for the Sea Lions to make another deep tournament run, similar to the one made in 2019 in which PLNU fell just short of winning the national title. Early in the game; however, now three-time PacWest Player of the Year Kaden Anderson left the game with an apparent ankle injury.
While clearly hobbled, Anderson managed to come back in the game and put up a team-high 27 points and lead the team to a tie game in the final minute, bouncing back from a 12-point deficit established in the first half. In the end, the Sea Lions were unable to hold off their opponent and lost 89-83.
Despite the loss, the fans of PLNU’s men’s basketball team were loud in their support of the team during the NCAA West Regional final. PLNU’s own Aidan DeMarco, a first-year undeclared major, experienced the spectacle from the student section.
“Throughout the whole game, I was very entertained. We had 100 plus kids in the stands … [the] overall the energy of the game, it was very lively. The crowd was a very awesome environment to be in. It’s very thrilling to be able to stand next to your peers and scream your head off while swinging a towel around,” said DeMarco.
DeMarco was impacted by the sense of community generated by the event.
“I think sitting in the student sections gives more of an emphasis on the community aspect of rooting for your school. It’s much more exciting than being on your own,” said DeMarco.
Having attended a few prior games in the season, including PLNU’s homecoming game —a 120-74 blowout victory against Hawaii Pacific University— DeMarco compared the energy of the crowd to his previous experiences.
“I feel like for this game, the energy was the most I’ve experienced,” said DeMarco.
He was not the only one who felt this way.
Jack Walter, a second-year business major, had also attended multiple basketball games prior to attending the NCAA West Championship. While he was not seated in the student section, Walter still felt the energy.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster, but that’s what made it so fun. [The event] was night and day from the other games I had been to,” said Walter.
While both Walter and DeMarco had attended previous PLNU basketball games, their experiences pale in comparison to that of PLNU communication professor Jeffrey Birdsell.
“I remember days when there were more players on the court than people in the stands,” said Birdsell. “I’ve been going to Point Loma basketball games for over twenty years, and it’s always still shocking to me when I roll up to the gym and see a crowd of people waiting for the doors to open.”
Like students Walter and DeMarco, Birdsell also felt the liveliness of the crowd was more notable than it had been in previous years.
“The gym was louder than when I’ve heard it, possibly ever. I left the gym with my ears ringing, and that rarely happens when I attend games at Golden Gym,” said Birdsell.
The three PLNU fans were disappointed by the outcome, each noting how the events of the game had an impact on them emotionally, but when DeMarco and Walter were asked if the experience as a whole made them want to attend more games during next year’s season, they each answered with the same word:
Written By: Joshua Scott