Toby Okwuokei (left) dribbles the ball during the SF State vs CSU San Bernardino basketball game in the Main Gym at Don Nasser Plaza on Dec. 1, 2022. (Miguel Francesco Carrion / Golden Gate Xpress) (Miguel Francesco Carrion)
Toby Okwuokei (left) dribbles the ball during the SF State vs CSU San Bernardino basketball game in the Main Gym at Don Nasser Plaza on Dec. 1, 2022. (Miguel Francesco Carrion / Golden Gate Xpress)

Miguel Francesco Carrion

SF State men’s basketball come up short against nationally ranked San Bernardino

The Gators kept it close in the first half, but three-point shooting and free throws allowed the Coyotes to pull away.

December 3, 2022

The SF State men’s basketball team fell short against San Bernardino during the first conference match of the season Thursday night at The Swamp.

The energy was strong, with a crowd of over 700 fans on “Purple Night,” an annual t-shirt giveaway. Despite the atmosphere, San Bernardino was able to build a lead that SF State couldn’t come back from en route to a 76-66 defeat of the Gators.

SF State, now 4-3 on the season, fought hard against 5-1 San Bernardino, ranked 15th in the nation.

“Sometimes the shots don’t fall,” said sophomore forward John Bakke. “But free throws is definitely something we can control and we need to be better on that end. But overall, the way we executed and got our shots, it’s gonna put us in a good spot going forward and it’s gonna help us win a lot of games.”

The first half was tight, with neither team leading by more than three points until San Bernardino gained some momentum to go up 34-29 at halftime.

The key differences between the two teams in the second half were the three-point arc and free-throw line. While the Gators held the Coyotes to just 2-9 from three in the first half, San Bernardino took advantage of open threes in the second half, hitting 6-10. The Gators shot just 5-15 from the arc for the game.

The Gators struggled to hit free throws as well, making 9-20 compared to 14-18 for the Coyotes.

“When you lose the game by 10 and you missed 11 free throws, you’re not gonna beat great teams,” said Head Coach Vince Inglima. “And that is a great team. So I tip the cap to them, they definitely beat us. But we had our opportunities. Now we know that we’re capable of beating that team when we have the opportunity again.”

San Bernardino took an 18-point lead in the second half, but the Gators were resilient. They trailed 65-47 with nine minutes remaining and were able to slowly climb back into the game, down seven with just over a minute left.

However, The Gators ran out of time.

“I think we played pretty tough,” said junior guard Jalen Flanagan. “They had some big shots. We easily could have folded late but stayed competing throughout the whole game.”

Bakke and junior forward Eche Okeke led the Gators in scoring with 12 points each. Bakke shot 6-12 and Ekeke scored on 5-9 shots. The team as a whole shot 39%.

Senior guard Toby Okwuokei, who leads the Gators with 13.1 points per game this season, scored nine points Thursday. It was the first time this season he hasn’t scored at least 10 points. The Gators also got nine points from junior guard Jalen Flanagan and freshman forward Caleb Oden.

As the season continues, Bakke noted some points of emphasis for the team to improve on.

“Taking care of the ball, making sure we don’t turn it over and give our opponents free buckets,” Bakke said. “Make them run their offense. If we can continue to rebound and take care of the ball, we’re gonna be a good team this year.”

The Gators’ next game is on Saturday at The Swamp vs. Cal Poly Pomona (4-1). It will be the final home game until Dec. 31.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Jack Davies
Jack Davies, Sports Editor
Jack Davies (he/him) is a journalism major in his final year of school. He is minoring in international business. He loves to watch sports and write about them, but also has an interest in potentially traveling the world as a salesman. He grew up in Napa Valley, California, and moved to the East Coast when he was 11 years old. He started his college career at Santa Barbara City College, where he wrote for The Channels publication as a sports writer. In his free time, he likes to play sports, explore the Bay Area, hang out with friends, listen to music, play video games and watch TV. After graduating, he wants to write for a sports publication and travel the world.
Photo of Miguel Francesco Carrion
Miguel Francesco Carrion, Visuals Editor
Miguel Francesco Carrion (he/him) is a fifth-year photojournalism major and Asian American studies minor. While he claims to be a country-singing, Bronco riding cowboy in another universe, he is currently serving as the visuals editor for the Golden Gate Xpress. Outside of school, he works as a freelance photographer and videographer, and his work has appeared in BBC North America, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Positively Filipino Magazine and The Filipino Channel. When not working, you can find him at The Pub or in the back of his friends’ cars belting Zach Bryan lyrics out of tune.

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