BELMONT, Calif. --- Proving they’re a team to be reckoned with, the No. 25-ranked California Baptist University Lancers broke a program record by winning their 14th-straight game Monday night.
The Lancers defeated Notre Dame de Namur 81-62 to improve to an impressive 14-0 record overall and remain on top of the PacWest standings at 8-0. With the loss, NDNU falls to 3-11 on the season, 2-6 in conference action.
"We were able to see the movie Lone Survivor as a team last night," said head coach Rick Croy. "It further helped us understand how blessed we are to be doing what we are doing."
Four CBU hoopsters finished the night in double figures, led by Michael Smith. The freshman guard registered 15 points off 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the line. Ryan Berg (5-of-8) and Garrett Jefferson (5-of-7) each added 12 points, while Chris Brown ended the night with 11 points (4-of-7).
Anthony Cosentino sank a three from downtown to open the game, keeping with the theme of the year as the Lancers have scored first in all but one contest. Berg added another two points from the field to give CBU a quick 5-0 lead.
NDNU got on the board with a free throw, but before the Argonauts could get another attempt on offense, Berg stole the ball away and countered on the attack to extend the Lancers’ lead to 7-1.
The host Argonauts battled to tie the game at 12-12 with 12:32 remaining in the first frame, but Berg kept NDNU from taking over control of the game by finding nothing but net from distance. Smith finished two chances at the charity stripe to put CBU back in front by five at 17-12.
CBU extended its advantage into double-digits after Brown stole the ball away and drew a foul on the fastbreak. He finished both of his shots from the line and Jefferson added another free point, putting the score at 27-16 in favor of the Lancers.
Trying to build momentum, NDNU responded by knocking one off the backboard and cut the lead into single digits with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
Determined to keep the Argonauts at a safe distance, Eric Hunt laid the ball into the hoop and grabbed an important defensive rebound on NDNU’s next attempt on offense to keep the Argonauts off the board. The Lancers held on the remaining three minutes of the half to be in control of the 46-29 halftime score.
Coming out of the break, NDNU opened with a 6-2 run to put the game within 13 points. Eric Nelson helped put the Lancers back on track, initiating an 8-0 run to grab their highest lead of the night at 56-35, capped by Ivan Patterson’s layup through traffic.
The Argonauts weren’t backing down, however, firing right back with a 9-2 run before Croy called a family meeting to regroup his players.
NDNU fought to catch a spark, forcing the Lancers to take tough shots but couldn’t quite keep CBU off the boards.
The Argonauts looked to grab a break after stealing the ball from the Lancers, but Jefferson snagged it right back before NDNU knew what to do with it. Brown finished a layup and as the Argonauts attempted to penetrate, Jefferson grabbed another steal and ran his way to a dunk.
Kevin Crabb added two baskets to complete the 10-0 scoring spree, giving CBU a 73-51 lead heading down the stretch.
NDNU ended its scoring drought with a bucket from Johnny Hutton, but with two and a half minutes left to play, Nelson’s basket gave the Lancers’ their largest lead of the night, a staggering 23 points at 77-54.
With a significant cushion, CBU closed out what was left on the clock to secure the 81-62 victory. The win gives the Lancers their third season series sweep.
The Lancers will face their first ranked opponent in Dixie State on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. After surrendering their first loss of the season to Hawaii Pacific last week, the No. 7-ranked Red Storm could drop in the rankings coming out tomorrow, but Croy knows his team better come prepared for a battle Saturday night.
"We have been so focused on the moment," said Croy. "We will get back home, get some rest and then prepare for a great Dixie team.
"We're excited to be playing at home," Croy added. "We hope it will be a special college basketball environment."