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Pioneers clawed at home by Cougars

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Photo by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Photo by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Photo by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

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It was a tale of two halves for the Cal State East Bay men’s basketball squad.

CSUEB trailed by two points at halftime, 38-36, but could not match the intensity of the first half and fell to the Cal State San Marcos Cougars at Pioneer Gymnasium, 85-69, on Thursday. The Pioneers are now 7-13 overall and 3-10 in California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference games this season. The road victory helped San Marcos improve to 11-7 overall and 8-4 in CCAA games.

“Our team is successful when we are focused on defending and rebounding,” CSUEB Head Coach Gus Argenal said. “In the first half we were able to stay close with our scoring but we were still giving up too many points. We have to be dialed into a possession by possession, stop by stop, game plan.”

The Cougars managed to outscore CSUEB by 14 points in the second half, 47-33, which resulted in the 16 point triumph. CSUM senior forward Taran Brown was unstoppable at times for the Cougars as he poured in a game-high 23 points in just 26 minutes on the court. Brown’s teammate and fellow senior forward Declan Daly also had a massive night as he secured a double-double with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists in 36 minutes of playing time.

“I felt like San Marcos dictated how the game was going to be played and we got caught up with just trying to score with them,” Argenal said. “We have to stop people and allow our defense to spark our offense.”

The Pioneers tried to match the scoring of San Marcos and had four players reach double-digit point totals. However, it wasn’t enough and the Cougars cruised to victory with a comfortable second half lead. CSUEB senior forward Jack Pasquini made a few shots in the second half that brought the Pioneers within three points of the Cougars but that is as close as they would come before San Marcos pulled away for good.

Pasquini had a team-high 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Pioneers while fellow senior guard Alex Carmon added in 13 points and junior guard Jalen Richard also chipped in with 13 points. Freshman guard Jordan Balser was the other Pioneer to reach double-digits in scoring with 10 points in the loss.

There are just seven regular season games left on the schedule for CSUEB and they will have to go on the road for the next four. The first game is tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. against Chico State (16-3 overall, 10-2 conference) at Art Acker Gymnasium. For Argenal, it brings up many connections. Argenal was an assistant coach at Chico State before coming to CSUEB and he also played for their head coach, Greg Clink, who was an assistant coach at UC Davis when Argenal played for the Aggies.

“He is a best friend of mine,” Argenal said. “Our families are very close and at times that adds to the talk about the matchup but for us it is about preparing our teams and playing to our potential. I loved my experience there and feel like I had a part in building the program but for us to become an elite program you have to beat the best.”

The road trip will continue on Saturday when the Pioneers make the trek to Turlock to take on Cal State Stanislaus (5-12, 4-8) at 7:30 p.m. at Ed & Bertha Fitzpatrick Arena.

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