A cast of inexperienced players has led the men’s basketball team throughout its first four games of the season.
On Saturday, Sergio Olmos took his turn.
The sophomore center established career highs in points and rebounds with 11 of each as the Owls easily downed Long Beach State, 74-49, at the Liacouras Center. Olmos’ three blocked shots also set a career-best.
Not only did Olmos earn career highs, but he blew by his previous marks of four points and four rebounds.
“I think he’s getting more aggressive,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “I think he’s saying to himself, ‘I’m pretty good. I can be a pretty good player and I can really help this team.’
“I can tell you that the guys really like him and they really want him to succeed, not only for his own good, but also for our good as well.”
Sophomore forward Dionte Christmas, who topped the Owls (2-2) for the third straight game with 20 points, said Olmos is one of several players beginning to prove themselves.
“Sergio’s come a long way,” Christmas said. “Other guys, DaShone Kirkendoll, Chris Clark – his passing ability is great, Semaj Inge, even the freshmen – Ryan Brooks came off the bench to give us a little spark.
“We have a lot of guys with confidence this year and they really can play.”
Clark, a junior point guard, came off the bench and continually found an open player. His six assists were one shy of his career-high, set against Rutgers Wednesday night.
“When I get in the game, I’m just trying to push the ball, speed the tempo up a little bit [and] get guys open shots,” Clark said. “I think when we run, we’re at our best.”
The 49ers (2-4) scored the game’s first five points, but the Owls rebounded and quickly put the game away.
Christmas, Olmos and senior Dustin Salisbery led the Owls on a 28-4 run to open up the score, at 28-9. Christmas had 10 points during that stretch, while Salisbery notched three steals and six of his 11 total points. Olmos tallied seven points.
The 49ers finally got a few shots to fall, but didn’t pull any closer. The Owls constructed a 43-13 lead by halftime.
With the game in hand, many of starters checked out of the game for good midway through the second frame. That allowed seldom-used players Orlando Miller, a walk-on, center Anthony Ivory, guard Brian Shanahan and freshman Luis Guzman to receive a few minutes of play.
Saturday was Fran Dunphy Mustache Day. Fans wearing a real or fake mustache received $5 off price of admission.
Former Temple Associate Athletic Director Vic Cegles is the Director of Athletics at Long Beach State.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.