It was not a fun night to be a California State University, Los Angeles Golden Eagle on Tuesday night in the Swamp. Not only did the Golden Eagles take a beating on the court, but the capacity crowd let them know whose territory they were on.
The student section, decked out in gray “The Road Starts Here” shirts and pumping purple and yellow pom poms, refused to sit until the Gators scored their first basket a few minutes into the first half. At times, the raucous crowd went toe-to-toe with the school band in volume levels.
“I thought the fans were incredible tonight,” coach Paul Trevor said. “Every time we hit a 3 or got a fast break layup, they erupted. I can’t thank the students enough for coming out tonight.”
Despite the energy and craziness from the crowd, the Gators started the game slow with two turnovers in a row. On the defensive end, they gave up two quick baskets in the paint giving Cal State LA a quick 11-6 lead.
The Gators regained momentum after a timeout in the first, taking the lead and never looking back. The game resembled a pendulum as both teams launched three after three with the Golden Eagles trying to take control of the game and the Gators forcibly trying to maintain.
With every air ball, turnover and block, the crowd erupted in chants and cheers, attempting to do their part to take a mental hold over the opposition.
“We got into their heads before the game even started,” baseball player Brent Montgomery said. “If we do our part in the crowd, the players will do their part on the court.”
The Gators went on a 7-0 run as the first half ended, and went into halftime leading 37-26.
The Gators carried the momentum into the second half, making their first three baskets of the period. The roof practically blew off the Swamp when junior guard Warren Jackson tossed an alley-oop to senior Israel Hakim with 12 minutes left in the half. The crowd grew louder when senior AJ Kahlon took two and-ones within one minute of each other, officially putting the game out of reach. Kahlon finished the game with 21 points and eight rebounds.
“I was just trying to be aggressive tonight,” Kahlon said. “Whatever they gave us, we just took it. We explored their weaknesses.”
The Gators strength emanated throughout the Swamp in the final minutes as the Gators swept the Golden Eagles with a final score 93-67, advancing them to the next round of the CCAA Championships in San Marcos where they will face off against number four ranked Sonoma State University.