The lights dimmed on the No. 4 SF State men’s basketball team as their season came to an end on Tuesday as the Gators lost to No. 5 Cal State L.A. 81-76 in an overtime thriller that saw multiple stoppages in play during the second half due to multiple power outages.
Guard Shacquille Dawkins Dawkins was the hero of the night for the Golden Eagles, scoring 21 points and knocking down a crucial 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in overtime to put the No. 5 seed up five points and seal the victory.
SF State led for nearly the entirety of regulation, but two power outages occured midway through the fourth quarter at The Swamp and both teams were forced to run sprints in the dark to stay warm in the hopes the power would be restored.
There was a 34-minute power outage that occurred around 8:35 p.m. Referees gave nearly a 45-minute deadline, until 9:15 p.m., to wait out the darkness. If not, the game would be scheduled to be played on Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. Fortunately the power would cycle back on at 9:09 p.m. and the teams returned to the hardwood.
After the power came back on, SF State conceded the lead with under a minute to go in regulation.
“When the blackout happened, I think the momentum shifted right there,” graduate guard Jiday Ugbaja said. The team’s leading scorer fouled out of the game with 17 seconds to go in regulation. “I think we were going on a run. When the power came [back] on, I think we got a little stiffened up and our defensive intensity went back down. Then L.A. made a run. They had control from the end of regulation to overtime.”
Senior guard/forward Chiefy Ugbaja was forced to play out of position at point guard after three Gators, Jiday Ugbaja, Zane Paddon and Jordan Balser fouled out of the game.
Chiefy stepped up to the challenge, scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting while maintaining his outstanding defense, grabbing three steals. He finished a clutch layup with eight seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 70 and eventually send it to overtime.
However, the Gators were unable to get much going in the extra period as they were outscored 11-6, falling victim to the No. 4/No. 5 upset.
SF State finished their season with a record of 18-10. Tuesday’s game marks the last in an SF State jersey for Jiday and Chiefy Ugbaja, Ryne Williams and Matt Arrivas. Six redshirt freshmen will look to make their college debuts this fall for the Gators.
“It’s going to be a really pivotal spring for us,” head coach Vince Inglima said. “To incorporate these six guys redshirting, but to have 12 returners already set really puts us in a prime position to be good next year if we all develop together and play well together as we did this year. I feel like, this year, we got a lot out of this group. We played very close to our potential.”
Coach Inglima made sure to point out a key stat that he felt summed up this year’s team and season.
“We were the only team in the league not to lose two games in a row all season,” he said. “Yeah, we finished fourth, but to go through a year without losing back-to-back shows a lot about the toughness of this group. We’re really just immensely proud of this team.”
Cal State L.A. will travel to Hayward, Calif. to take on the No. 1 seeded Cal Poly Pomona Broncos on Friday, March 8 at 8:05 p.m.