WAC play crucial for CBU to establish DI presence

Photo: Elijah Hickman

The first season of the NCAA Division I competition for California Baptist men’s basketball has had its fair share of exciting story lines.

The season started with a statement from Lancer fans when they broke an attendance record at the team’s season opener.

In the team’s first true DI match up, Milan Acquaah, sophomore business administration major, sank a half- court buzzer-beater to lift the Lancers to their first DI win. The moment earned top play of the day honors on the Los Angeles edition of ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Lancer fans were energized further when CBU traveled to the University of California, Riverside, to pick up an emphatic win in the first episode of the highly anticipated Crosstown Showdown.

In late December 2018, Acquaah built on an impressive start to the season by earning the Lou Henson Award National Player of the Week.

Non-conference play was a wild and exciting ride for the Lancers and their fans, but questions remained with conference play looming.

Doing damage in the Western Athletic Conference would cement CBU as a formidable mid-major force.

The Lancers shocked the WAC on Jan. 3 when they hosted and beat New Mexico

State University, a team that made the NCAA tournament a year ago and was picked to win the conference again this season.

That was quite the entrance. Not knowing what to expect, the easiest way for college basketball fans to gauge the Lancers capabilities is to measure them against successful DI teams.

With the win over the Aggies, CBU’s team flexed its muscles by upsetting a tournament team and conference favorite in the WAC opener.

However, the Lancers still have work to do. After the statement victory over NMSU, CBU stumbled with losses to the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, and the University of Missouri, Kansas City. The Lancers bounced back with a road win over Chicago State.

Speaking of road wins, the Lancers are one of 23 DI teams with five or more true road wins. This comes in their first season of Division I competition.

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Lancers have yet another chance to prove themselves with a match up against Grand Canyon University.

The best way for CBU to flex its proverbial muscles would be a respectable finish in the WAC regular season standings, and the Lancers have their work cut out for them with the bulk of conference play still to come.

About Cullen Holt

Asst. Sports Editor

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