Golden Eagles Cut Down Lumberjacks to Earn Playoff Spot

Men’s Basketball Team Honors Their Seniors

Cal State LA men’s basketball wins against Humboldt State in a game of 64-55.

Anthony Quach, Staff Reporter

The Cal State LA men’s basketball team clinched a spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament with a 64-55 conference win over the Humboldt State Lumberjacks on Saturday, Feb. 23 at University Gym.

Saturday’s game was also the Golden Eagles’ Senior Day, as they honored their seven seniors in the pregame festivities: team manager Mohammad Isse, guards Kenneth Cyprian, Devin Means, Grant Arthur and Miles Ford, and forwards Brandon Hitchman and Jihad Woods.

For Golden Eagles’ head coach Jim Saia, he is most proud at the fact that each of his seniors will be graduating.

“They’re all going to graduate. That’s why they’re here, and that’s why I’m here, and that is to help them graduate so they can move on with their life,” said Saia.

For Cyprian, he felt his time as a Golden Eagle went by too quick.

“It felt like just yesterday, I was signing my letter of intent to come here. It’s been an up-and-down ride for sure, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction,” said Cyprian.

It was a physical game from the start, with the Golden Eagles leading 31-28 going into halftime. The shooting percentage for both teams was nearly identical as the Golden Eagles shot 32.4 percent, while the Lumberjacks shot 31 percent.

The second half began with a 9-0 run by the Golden Eagles, as they extended their lead over the Lumberjacks 40-28. This was the largest lead of the game for the Golden Eagles, as they outscored the Lumberjacks in the second half 33-27.

Golden Eagles’ junior forward Ja’Sean Lewis was ejected from the game in the second half after receiving his second technical foul of the game. Despite his ejection, the Golden Eagles did not falter, as they brought Woods back into the game.

“We withstood some adversity with Ja’Sean’s ejection but I thought Jihad did a good job picking up the slack and finishing the game out for us,” said Saia.

Overall, the Golden Eagles shot 32.3 percent from the field, and made 9-of-35 from 3-point-range. The Lumberjacks had a shooting percentage of 28.8, while making only 2-of-17 from beyond the arc.

Means led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 15 points, as he shot 4-for-10 from the field and was 5-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Ford was the only other Golden Eagle to be in double figures in scoring, with 11 points of his own.

“This playoff race has been crazy,” said Ford. “It’s been a heck of a ride for my senior year. We just got to take care of business and win the rest of the games out.”

Saturday’s victory marks the first time the Golden Eagles won three consecutive games this season.

“You never want to peak too early and I think we’re starting to peak at just the right time,” said Cyprian. “We’re playing some of our best basketball right now, which is perfect because we’re about to head into the CCAA Tournament.”

The Golden Eagles are now 16-11 overall this season and they are in sixth place of the CCAA, with a conference record of 12-9. They remain a half-game behind both the fourth-place San Francisco State Gators and the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros.

The Golden Eagles will resume CCAA action on Thursday, Feb. 28 for their final game of the regular season against the Stanislaus State Warriors in Turlock, CA.

“Paul Trevor, the head coach of the Warriors, is going to coach them up and they’re going to play to win,” said Coach Saia. “It’s going to be a tough game on the road, but we just have to worry about us and focus on us.”

For Ford, it is all about having fun and getting a win in the final game of the regular season.

“I just got to be the energy guy for the team and make our guys want to play. We just have to have fun and play our brand of basketball.”