A packed house of fans that were in attendance on Friday night, Feb. 2 cheered on the SF State men’s basketball team as they faced off against Cal State San Marcos during the fourth annual Spirit Night at The Swamp.
While the Gators put up a tough fight, they ultimately fell to the visiting Cougars 89-76 in a game that was truly a tale of two halves.
The game was going all the home team’s way in the first half as the Gators drew first blood off a lay-up by Senior forward Brantley Bynum. Bynum continued to lead the way for the Gators, finishing the half with a team high 13 points. As the buzzer sounded at halftime, the home team was ahead 46-36 with all the momentum on their side.
The crowd at The Swamp was electrifying to start the game, donning their yellow Spirit Night shirts and cheering hard after every positive play by the Gators.
“It was great, the crowd energy, we really feed off that,” said head coach Vince Inglima. “The Swamp is a really tough place to play for opponents when its rocking like it was tonight, and that helped us in the start.”
While The Swamp is always a tough place for opponents to come into, it was especially advantageous for the Gators on Friday, mostly due to the fact that it was the fourth annual “Gold Rush” Spirit Night
“I think whenever there’s a chance when they feel like the spirit moves them and we provide something for them, students are more inclined to want to come out and be a part of it,” said game day management coordinator Jamil Sheared when asked about the effect of Spirit Night.
While the crowd definitely had the team going in the right direction in the first half, the second half seemed to turn into a whole other game.
The Cougars came out hot to start the second half, going on a 12-2 run to tie the game up at 48 a piece after five minutes of game time. They were led by senior guard Ethan Alvano who finished the night with a game high 26 points, despite tough defense by the Gators.
“Ethan Alvano’s hands down the best player in the league and when he’s making tough shot after tough shot, it makes it very challenging to come back,” said Inglima. “We did a really good job on him and he still torched us, so thankfully I don’t have to see him again this year.”
Bynum did all he could to keep up with Alvano, finishing the game with 25 points of his own. Junior guard Chiefy Ugbaja also played his part by defending Alvano valiantly, even forcing the latter to turn the ball over after a 10-second backcourt violation late in the game.
However, the Gators never seemed to recover the momentum they had in the first half and didn’t have an answer for the Cougar’s tough zone defense.
“They switched to a zone and it made our offense really stagnant, said Graduate student guard Evan Zeller. “We had some really good open looks but we just couldn’t finish them, and the zone played a really good part in drowning us energy-wise and we just couldn’t overcome it.”
The Gators ultimately lost with the final score coming in at 86-79 in favor of the visitors. The loss drops the team to an overall record of 13-9. They hope to bounce back against their next opponent, the UC San Diego Tritons, on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at The Swamp.