The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

Relentless Cougars head to Nationals

By: Resty Grey

The CSUSM men’s basketball team will be heading to Kansas City to compete in the National Associates Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I Championship tournament as the number one seed.

Led by head coach Jim Saia, CSUSM finishes the regular seasons with a 30-1 record, winning their first Associations of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Division I Conference Championship title.

CSUSM defeated Life in their final game on Sunday, March 9, leading 112 – 95 with exceptional contribution from the entire team. The Cougars shot for 50 percent from the field, 44.8 percent from three-point land and out rebounded Life.

Bobby Macias and Zack Zaragoza came off the bench and combined for 31 points and 15 rebounds.

When asked what he attributed to the Cougars’ success, starting three-guard Malcolm Lemmons said, “Our camaraderie; we’re a close knit group on and off the court.”

Lemmons contributed a double-double in the final game.

“I do anything I can to help the team win. If coach needs me to rebound, or play defense, I do anything I can to meet our goal,” he said.

“It’s nice to finally see the hard work is actually paying off. We made a name for ourselves the first year, got ranked the second, and getting ranked number one this year; it feels good,” three-year veteran, Brian Emmanuel, said.

The Cougars are headed for a week of a challenge with the tournament being filled with the nation’s best players at the small collegiate level.  Thirty-two teams are slated to compete for the NAIA Division I Championship title during the week of March 19 to March 25.

CSUSM’s number one ranking leaves the rest of the league anticipating some great competition.

“It’s a great feeling, but we know rankings don’t mean anything when going into the tournament, and every team’s going to be gunning for us, so it’s like we got a chip on our shoulder,” Lemmons said. “We just have to go in there and play hard and take it day by day.”

When asked if there were any specific teams to look out for, Emmanuel said there was not.

The Cougars’ unselfish offense and defensive prowess gives the team a well-deserved confidence going into the tournament.

CSUSM Cougars are set to play the thirty-second seed, Oklahoma Baptist, on Wednesday, March 19 in round one of the NAIA Division I tournament.

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