By: Tavia Rowell
Point Loma Nazarene University men’s basketball team continued its non-conference games on Nov. 27 after a 2-0 winning streak Thanksgiving weekend in Idaho. The PLNU men took on cross-town rival San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs, residing just 14 miles away from PLNU’s campus.
Holding the Aztecs to 30 points in the second half, the Sea Lions fought on both sides of the floor but fell short 71-51 at Viejas Arena to move to 4-3 overall for the season.
PLNU began the game with a three-pointer from guard Zack Paulsen and a corner three from forward Luke Smith for a score of 6-2. The Aztecs came back to turn the four-point deficit into a 16-6 advantage. SDSU led by 15 at the half, which turned into a 20-point victory.
Matur Dhal, a third-year center and psychology major, was the third-leading scorer with 16 minutes and six points. He said he is proud of his team despite the loss.
“My thoughts going into the game was to compete and play for each other, and overall, I thought we fought till the last buzzer,” said Dhal. “Even though we were missing one of our best players, Jake [Lifgren], everyone stepped up and competed.”
Unfortunately for PLNU, the Aztecs dominated in the paint, outscoring the Sea Lions 36-14.
However, Smith set a career high of 19 points going five for seven from the three-point line. Paulsen also contributed to the Sea Lions with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Smith echoed the sentiments of Dhal, expressing pride in his team and hope for the remainder of the season.
“I thought we played well as a team,” said Smith. “Of course, nobody likes losing, but we put up a pretty good fight going up against a team that were the national runner-up last year and returning many of those players. It is early in the season, and we just gotta keep working and improving as a team.”
PLNU fans packed into the Viejas Arena for the game. Friends, staff and students attended to cheer on the Sea Lions. Thomas Kinzler, a third-year applied health science major who serves as the ASB director of school spirit, said he was happy to see so many students show up to an away game.
“Part of my job includes having the joy of supporting our sports teams and other students alongside the Hooligans,” said Kinzler. “With this, I was thrilled to cheer on the guys out at State. We’ve had so many incredible turnouts at home games so far, and it was so fun to see a good group of students travel over to support. Everyone was so proud of the team, and it was just an exciting evening to see our guys on that stage and hold their own.”
The Sea Lions return to Golden Gym on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m. for their PacWest opener against Concordia University Irvine.