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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Men’s basketball prepares for CCAA tournament

Gators travel to San Bernardino to play in the CCAA tournament this weekend
Sean Young
San Francisco State University freshman guard Donovan Cooks (21) drives towards the basket against California State University East Bay sophomore guard Payden White (40) during the Gators’ loss to the CSU East Bay Pioneers on Feb. 29, 2023 at Pioneer Gymnasium in Hayward, California. (Sean Young / Golden Gate Xpress)

The San Francisco State University men’s basketball team has experienced ups and downs during the season, but a final conference record of 11-11 was enough for the Gators to qualify for the postseason. 

The Gators will face Cal State Los Angeles in the first round of the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference tournament. The game will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at Coussoulis Arena in San Bernardino, California.

“I think Cal State LA was the team that, if we could have chosen anybody to play in the playoffs, they’re the one,” said forward Jonah Roth. “We just match up really well with them.”

This is the second year in a row the Gators have qualified for this tournament. They went out in the first round following a loss to Chico State in 2023.

“Having to turn right back around and go home is something that stayed with us,” said guard Devon Jackson. “We’re much hungrier to stay in the tournament longer this year.”

SFSU had their backs against the wall on Feb. 15 after a home loss to Cal State San Bernardino, sitting one spot out of the tournament with four games left in the season. However, it went on to consecutively beat the three teams fighting against it for the last playoff spot, all at home. 

This was enough to clinch a spot in the tournament with one game left.

“When we bring the physicality to the gym and we’re the initiator of contact, it’s night and day,” said head coach Vince Inglima. “We’re just a significantly better team.”

SFSU guard Alex Gilat (5) and forward Jailen Daniel-Dalton (23) help forward John Bakke (34) to his feet after a hard foul during the Gators’ loss to the CSU East Bay Pioneers on Feb. 29, 2024 at Pioneer Gymnasium in Hayward, California. (Sean Young / Golden Gate Xpress) (Sean Young)

The Gators had shown up most this season when the stakes were highest, including when they were near the bottom of the standings before their six-game win streak or when they needed to qualify for playoffs and won three home games in a row. 

“It’s a win-or-go-home situation, so that’s the biggest stage in that scenario,” Roth said. “I feel like we’re gonna be able to bring it every game in the playoffs.”

The Gators played very aggressively against their opponents during their three-game win streak.

“One of the focal points for our team was just setting the tone, coming to the game, being intentional, and that’s what led to that,” Jackson said. 

However, this win streak was broken in the season’s final game when they traveled to face Cal State East Bay and lost with a final score of 90-62. They could still get the final tournament spot due to having the tiebreaker over Sonoma State.

This matchup is the third time the Gators will face Cal State LA this season. The Gators won the first game at home on Jan. 13 but lost the game on the road on Feb. 8. 

“We basically led [from] start to finish and won somewhat convincingly here,” Inglima said. “Down there, I think we did a lot of self-sabotage and just didn’t bring our best effort.”

Cal State LA is a great three-point shooting team, with their team average at 37.9%, according to Cal State LA Athletics, San Francisco defends the three-pointer well. The Gators also have a lot of depth on their bench.

“In March — guys gotta make plays,” Inglima said. “If our guys show up, I think we’ll be in a great spot.”

While the task of winning the championship is a big one, the Gators are up for the challenge.

“There’s enough in this squad to win the conference tournament,” Inglima said. “Is that gonna be really hard? Of course — it’s hard for everybody; you’re only playing really good teams at this time of year — but I think we have enough.”

While this season has had its ups and downs for the Gators, they have reached the final stage and hope to extend their season in San Bernardino.

“What I’m most proud of with this group is we’ve learned a lot,” Inglima said.

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About the Contributors
Jake Knoeller
Jake Knoeller, Staff Reporter
Jake Knoeller (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in communications. He was born in Eureka, California and raised in Humboldt County. He currently lives in San Francisco. He previously worked for The Lumberjack, the student newspaper of Cal Poly Humboldt. During his free time, Jake enjoys playing or watching soccer, listening to music, and exploring neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Sean Young
Sean Young, Campus Editor
Sean Young (he/him) is the campus editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is a journalism major with a minor in California Studies. Originally from the small town of Sebastopol, Sean now lives in San Francisco. Before transferring to SF State, Sean studied journalism at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he was editor-in-chief of the college's student publication The Oak Leaf News. In his spare time, Sean can be found watching sports, listening to his vinyl record collection and reading the latest news from The New York Times.

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