SF State men’s basketball wins a thriller in season finale
The Men’s basketball won on senior night with a win over Cal State East Bay, sealing a home record of 9-4.
February 27, 2023
The Gator’s senior night and final game of the season at The Swamp was one to remember. The men’s basketball team beat Cal State East Bay 79-77 in overtime on Saturday, securing the third seed in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
The win followed another nail-biter on Thursday, which came down to a John Bakke buzzer-beater, which secured a playoff spot for the Gators. SF State finished the conference 12-10 and 16-12 overall. The well-fought game prevents Cal State East Bay from breaking its tie with Chico state for a playoff spot.
Before the game, seniors Jalen Flanagan, Eche Okeke, Toby Okwuokei and Bryson Ryan were honored in a senior night ceremony.
SF State had a slow start in the first half, once trailing 24-12, but defensive plays and momentum on the opposite end of the court led the Gators to close the gap to four before the half’s end.
Flanagan, a guard, was the second leading scorer of the game for the Gators, with a career-high of 21 points and nine rebounds. With eight seconds left at the end of the game, Flanagan scored a fastbreak layup to tie the game 64-64, which led to overtime.
“We did go down early and we thought, just stick together,” Flanagan said. “If we stick to what we do on defense and on offense, it will eventually come. So that’s what happened, we stayed playing as one.”
Okeke, a forward, led the team in scoring and rebounds with a career-high of 23 points and 11 rebounds.
“I always try to play hard,” Okeke said. “So in moments where we were down, I wanted to just try and score to get to the free throw line and see what I can do to help my team and on the defensive side –– just battling.”
Overall for the season, Okeke led the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per game and rebounds, averaging six per game.
Despite a slow start, losing on the boards and a variety of referee calls, the Gators made strong plays and stayed in the game.
“The guys have to step up and make plays,” said Head Basketball Coach Vince Inglima. The guys did it tonight and we’ve been doing it lately. We’ve got to keep that attitude and we have to keep that effort going into the playoffs next week.”
Inglima said the season prepared them for the playoffs.
“Our mentality is that we’re playing as well as anybody is right now,” Inglima said.“We’ve won 11 of 14 and we’ve won in a variety of ways. We’ve had some high-scoring games, some low-scoring games and games that came down to the wire.”
The Gators face Chico State (12-15) next week in the first round of the CCAA Tournament.