Nelson Defends the Bren
When push came to shove the Anteaters showed their determination in a highly contested game against Long Beach State. The valiant back and forth featured many lead changes before Freshmen phenom Luke Nelson drained the go-ahead bucket with 44 seconds left.
In a battle for the best record in the big west, two of the three teams tied. The Anteaters played a stellar game and came out with a much-needed victory against the 49ers.
The game featured 11 ties and 17 lead changes before Nelson’s bucket put the Anteaters up for good with under a minute to play. After a missed deep three point attempt by Tyler Lamb at the buzzer, the Anteaters escaped the Bren Events Center with yet another close victory, 61-58.
The story of the game was the phenomenal shooting of guard Luke Nelson. Nelson finished the game the same way he started it, making 10 of his 15 attempts and draining five threes en route to a career high 28 points.
Led by Center Dan Jennings who finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds, and freshmen Travis Hammonds who came off the bench and recorded a double double, the smaller Long Beach State lineup was able to out-rebound the Anteaters 42-37.
Mamadou Ndaiye led the Anteaters on the boards, finishing the game just 2 points short of a triple double, setting a new Big West record with 11 blocks in the process.
Ndaiye’s play has steadily improved, his 3.4 blocks per game are good for sixth in the NCAA, and he has been shooting an impressive 76 percent from the field.
The question for the Anteaters still remains, how can they get Ndaiye involved on the offensive side of the ball without slowing their offense down?
Despite his stellar field goal shooting, Ndaiye is only averaging 4.8 shot attempts per game (This is likely due to the fact that he has been horrendous from the free-throw line, making only 38 percent of his attempts), but the Anteaters should still look to get him involved offensively more often.
It should be noted, although Ndaiye has had his stellar moments, he has been rather inconsistent. After his dominant game against Long Beach State, Ndaiye struggled against UC Davis, finishing the game with only three rebounds and four turnovers.
This many games into the season, and only a month away from the Big West tournament, it is time for Coach Russell Turner and the Anteaters to develop a consistent method for winning games. It seems like all the big games that the Anteaters have won so far this year have been down to the wire, which is a scary thought with the single-elimination format of the Big West tournament.
The Anteaters keep winning games, but there are still many questions to be answered about this team. It’s easy to see how much potential this team has, now it’s up to Turner and the coaching staff to figure out how to consistently be great.