Men’s basketball takes down Cal State San Bernardino on Senior Night

Okugo, Brown, Taylor, Daly and Dickinson honored for their performances


Jeffrey Davis

Taylor driving past his defender

Amy Chastain, Sports Editor


The CSUSM men’s basketball team, led by a talented group of seniors, put on a show in a win against conference rival Cal State San Bernardino on Feb. 21.

“[It was a] great night for the seniors. Happy they won it,” Head Coach Jim Saia said of the 86-80 victory.

Carrying momentum from their Senior Night, seniors Darnell Taylor and Declan Daly opened the game quickly, putting the Cougars ahead 4-0.

Despite this start, the game had no clear lead until the Cougar’s defense peaked. A huge block by Daly on Coyote Zeke DeBlase’s shot attempt followed by another block on DeBlase set off a chain reaction of defensive attacks.

On the Coyote’s next eight possessions, four of their attempts were blocked at the net—two more times by Daly and twice by Taran Brown.

During this time of heightened defense, the referees handed out three fouls to the Coyotes. With 11:36 remaining, one technical foul went to Desi Barmour, another technical was charged to the team and a foul was given to Zeke DeBlase.

Akachi Okugo lined up to take his hard earned free throws and sunk six straight free throws with ease, bringing the score to 22-11.

As the clock wound down on the first half, the Coyotes ate away at the Cougars early lead. With 5:23 remaining, Coyote Brandon Staton sunk a basket and brought them within two, 30-28.

A three-pointer from Coyote’s Juan Martinez and five free throws between Martinez and Darryl Adigwu brought the score to 37-38 to close out the half.

After scoring only seven points during the first half, Brown was able to get his game flowing only four minutes into the second half.

Brown brought the score to 53-47 with a dunk backed with such intensity that the hoop continued to shake long after the possession was over.

Brown was right in the thick of the action again when he blocked a shot attempt on the Coyotes’ next play.

On a subsequent possession, Brown missed a three-pointer, but twenty seconds later went in for another dunk, bringing the crowd to their feet.

After Brown’s second dunk of the night, the Coyotes came back firing, scoring 11 points on their next five possessions. The Cougars clung to the lead 58-56.

With under three minutes remaining, Brown battled it out on the far end of the court with his defender tripping him and sprawling on top of him, dangerously close to the people watching.

Brown put up a fight all the way to the ground and his three-point attempt was good. The crowd went wild as Brown turned and gave a condescending look to his opponent who still lay on the ground in shock.

“When I got fouled in the corner, I was kind of looking at that guy,” Brown said. “He punched me in the stomach and I had to give him a little look-down.”

A last minute three-pointer from DeBlase was not enough to keep the Coyotes alive and the Cougars walked away with a win.

Saturday night’s victory marked the end of a home court legacy for the graduating seniors and the end of a five-year stretch of playing at their temporary “home” at MiraCosta. Seniors Okugo with 18 points, Brown with 27, and Taylor with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

“It’s bittersweet. Last time playing at our home … [I have] mixed feelings, but I’m glad we came out with a win,” Okugo said.

Brown, who tied a season-high 27 points, gave credit to his teammates. “I appreciate my whole team. It’s been a great season. We got two games left [at Humboldt State and Cal Poly Pomona]. It’s going to be great,” Brown said.