Cal State LA Basketball pays respect to Kobe Bryant

Robert Huskey/Cal State LA News Service
Fard Muhammad (22) defends the ball against Dominguez Hills players in an intense game with Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Darwin Lopez, Staff Reporter

On Saturday, prior to games against crosstown rival Cal State Dominguez Hills, both Cal State LA  men’s and women’s basketball programs agreed to take a 24-second moment of silence for the recently departed NBA legend, Kobe Bryant. The 24 seconds represented the Lakers star’s most recent jersey number. 

Cal State LA women’s basketball Head Coach, Torino Johnson, wore a Kobe jersey under his blazer. Johnson shared his thoughts on giving some time for the victims of the recent tragedy. “This is the smallest thing, it’s a small gesture, but it’s [a way] to uplift some people that may not have had that opportunity to do so.”

Cal State LA men’s basketball Head Coach, Jim Saia, had a different perspective, connecting it to his team’s mindset. 

“We play with a ‘mamba mentality.’ That was the game that we wanted to represent [for] Kobe,” Saia said. “I think we represent the city of Los Angeles more than any school in LA. We’re the school of the people. People come here and get an education as first generation graduates, and they’re fighters just the way Kobe was.”   

After the moment for Kobe, the games got underway. First to play were the Cal State LA women, who fell to the Toros. The final score was 79-66. 

The Toros led for most of the game, but the Golden Eagles mounted a comeback in the second half as they tied the game at 36 in the third quarter. A three-pointer by guard Nicole Flennaugh then gave Cal State LA a 39-36 lead. 

However, the Toros turned the tide when they locked down defensively. Dominguez Hills eventually retook the lead and handed the Golden Eagles another loss.

The Toros led the Golden Eagles in second chance points, 33-9. 

Coach Johnson said his team needs to “fall in love” with the physicality of the sport. “When you get into games versus teams that have some type of love for that [part of the game], then this is the end result,” he said.  

Cal State LA men fared better against the Toros, narrowly beating the crosstown rival by a score of 65-64. Cal State LA completed the sweep against Cal State Dominguez Hills, winning both match-ups this season by a one point margin.  

Cal State LA had a 53-42 lead with nine minutes left in the game. However, the Toros battled back and mounted an 18-0 run, giving themselves a 60-53 lead with five minutes to go. Some back and forth action led to a 64-64 tie. 

Cal State LA eventually won the game at the free throw line where guard Shaquille Dawkins would go one-for-two. The Toros tried to end the game at the buzzer, but a missed attempt finalized the 65-64 win for the Golden Eagles. 

Cal State LA was led by guard Fard Muhammad, who had a team high 14 points.

Lewis wasn’t totally satisfied with the team’s performance. “To be honest, I was kind of frustrated with the shots we were taking in the game. It felt like we were going to throw the game away,” he said. 

Both Cal State LA basketball programs will have Homecoming games this Thursday at the University Gym.

UPDATED: Feb. 3 @ 4:28 p.m.