Basketball wins Western Regional; faces defeat in first-ever Elite Eight

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The men’s basketball team at California Baptist University had a highlight season as they completed their last season in NCAA Division II.

One accomplishment the Lancers managed to achieve was winning the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship March 9-12 in Monmouth, Oregon. This achievement led them to qualifying for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the first time in Lancer basketball history.

De’jon Davis, sophomore fine arts major and forward, said he felt amazing winning the west regional championship.

“Definitely one of those feelings of being so surreal at the moment,” Davis said. “Just being in the door with this great group of guys that you love so much makes it extra special.”

Ty Rowell, freshman business administration major and guard, said he felt great winning the regional championship.

“Winning the Western Regional Championship was a great feeling knowing we had achieved something that no CBU basketball team has ever done,” Rowell said.

They faced Queens University of Charlotte on the first day of the tournament March 20. Unfortunately, the Lancers took a hard loss with a final score of 100-94.

Davis said it was a great experience to participate in the Elite Eight.

“We got to go to South Dakota and I’ve never been around snow before,” Davis said. “Just to realize we are the last eight teams left to continue playing and we made history.”

Rowell said participating in the Elite Eight was a great experience playing in an amazing facility.

“We all expected to win and keep rolling to the Final Four and eventually the Final,” Rowell said. “But that was not the outcome.”

Kalidou Diouf, senior journalism and new media major and center, said winning the West Regional Championship was one of the greatest wins in his career so far.

“Winning the West Region is something that has never been done before,” Diouf said. “Therefore, it is a huge success for the team.”

Diouf also said competing in the Elite Eight was a new experience for everyone on the team.

“Of course, I wish we would’ve won the game,” Diouf said. “At the end of the day, I am very proud of my team and how much we have achieved.”

With the season being over, men’s basketball has begun focusing on what is next for the team. There will be new transitions surrounding men’s basketball as they will be transferring to NCAA Division I.

Also, six athletes from men’s basketball will be graduating this year, which leaves room for new players to get recruited just in time for the NCAA Division I transition.

Davis said one thing he looks forward to is being able to play better, faster competition.

“We’ve had experience playing D1 teams before in preseason,” Davis said. “So it won’t be a totally new experience, but it is very exciting knowing we’re a part of  (the NCAA) Division I culture.”

Rowell said there are many things to look forward to in regards to this transition.

“I like the challenge of playing better teams and better players,” Rowell said. “It will make us strive to be better and work together as a team.”

Davis also commented on the recruiting strategy of the coaches on transitioning to Division I.

“The coaches are great at recruiting,” Davis said. “They’ll probably continue the same strategy they have been doing for so long.”

Rowell also commented on what the team will be doing in offseason in preparation for the transition.

“We are going to be working very hard in the offseason to make sure we are ready to compete and win at the Division I level,” Rowell said. “We are losing some great senior leaders and players, but we trust the guys that will take their place and know we will be ready to compete and work hard next year.”

Thanks to new recruits and the Lancers’ hard work during the offseason, there will be plenty to look forward to next season for CBU basketball.

About Jeff Kissel

Sports Editor

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