The Gators beat California State University, Los Angeles Golden Eagles 96-76 on Saturday’s Senior Night. Before the game, a short ceremony was conducted for seniors Coley Apsay, Nick Calcaterra, AJ Kahlon, Derrick Brown and Israel Hakim.
Head Coach Paul Trevor started all five seniors to pay tribute to the outgoing players.
The all-senior starting five began the game strong, manifesting energy from the crowd into easy baskets and turnovers on defense. By the time the first round of substitutions came in, the Gators already had a 7-0 lead.
“I didn’t have any doubts the starting five would produce well,” Trevor said. “We’re a deep team.”
Cal State LA would be held scoreless until mid way in the first half. Calcaterra made four three-pointers in the first half to lead as the high scorer at 16 points. He was also active on defense, helping force the Golden Eagles into making silly mistakes. Calcaterra finished the game with 23 points.
The Gators went into the locker room at halftime with a 41-32 lead.
At the start half, it was clear the Gators smelled blood. They turned up the aggression on defense, looking to force turnovers. AJ Kahlon started off the second by taking an offensive foul and earning a nice assist on an and-one to sophomore teammate Chiefy Ugbaja. Kahlon finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“My game is built on defense,” Kahlon said. “Anything I get on the offensive side is a bonus.
I had a pretty good game on that end because I was able to take advantage of mismatches.”
As the Gators second half lead grew, so did the excitement in the Swamp. The crowd went wild as Ugbaja dunked with authority with less than 10 minutes left on the clock. The crowd cheered as junior guard Warren Jackson tossed a no look pass to a streaking red shirt sophomore Ryne Williams for an and-one opportunity on the next possession. The bench went crazy when Calcaterra rose above the rim for a dunk late in the game.
“I’m just happy our team was able to get it done tonight,” Calcaterra said. “Senior night was definitely one for the books.”
This was the Gators seventh win in a row, improving the season standings to 22-3. This is the single season record for wins by SF State since the Division II era started, according to sports information director Matt Fontenot.
“This is definitely the best team I’ve ever been on,” Calcaterra continued. “Chemistry-wise and family-wise, I love it. Sucks that this will eventually have to come to an end.”
SF State will look to continue their winning streak when the post-season CCAA Championship tournament starts Tuesday, Feb. 28th in the Swamp.