Freshman guard makes statement over the weekend

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

After redshirting last year, at the urging of his coach to get a feel for the program, freshman guard Druce Asah established himself as a key player for the California State East Bay men’s basketball team, by being the leading scorer in each of the team’s last three games.

On Friday, the Pioneers faced Notre Dame De Namur (0-2 overall) in their first home game of the season for the Pioneer Challenge, a small tournament which consisted of four schools: East Bay, Sonoma State, Western Washington and Notre Dame De Namur. The Pioneers led throughout most of the first half, only giving up the lead once and managing to take the 43-28 lead going into halftime.

Asah scored 9 points in 15 minutes in the half and went 3-4 FG and 1-2 from the three-point line. “It feels really good to finally be out on the floor,” Asah said. “I am just so excited to be out on the floor finally and give my all.”

In the second half East Bay came out much stronger and determined defensively and took full control of the game as they outscored Notre Dame 36-22 and held their opponent to a 27.59 shooting percentage.

Asah was efficient in the second half when he scored 16 points, which gave him a team high of 25 points for the night in his first game in the Pioneer Gym. He went 8 for 11 from the field and 4 for 6 from the three-point line. He also added five offensive rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal in 33 minutes.

“Coach always tells me that I am more efficient when I am focused more on my defensive and rebounding,” Asah said. “When I do that it allows the game to come to me and helps me play at a higher level.”

Senior forward Micah Dunhour also added a double-double as he finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Drew Bender and center Kyler Frakes also added 11 points in the Pioneers double digit 79-60 win.

On Saturday, East Bay faced Western Washington 2-0 overall in the Pioneer Challenge finale. The outcome was a lot different from their previous game and they fell to the Vikings 107-81. Western Washington shot 63 percent from the field on the night, which made it very hard for the Pioneers to contain.

“It is hard to win a game when a team shoots that well from the field,” said Juwan Anderson, East Bay’s new transfer point guard from University of Nevada. “We just have to improve on our defense and communication more.”

Western Washington outscored 22 points off of East Bay’s turnovers and outscored them in the paint 40-24. The big factor for the Vikings was their 6-foot-6 forward Jeffery Parker, who scored 32 points and had five rebounds.

Asah led the team in scoring again with 15 points, along with Anderson who had 15 points of his own. Anderson was also 3-3 behind the arc. Former leading scorer for the Pioneers last year senior point guard Jalen Richards also added 12 points on the night.

“It was a tough loss, but Coach Argenal knows where to take us to get where we want to go,” Asah said. “We just have to keep working hard and have blind faith. We are a close-knit group and we are very comfortable and trust each other’s style of play. Everything will come together.”

The Pioneers will travel to Montana on Saturday to play Montana State at 7 p.m.