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Big West Notebook

January 8, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

New Year, New Season

As the new year began, so did a new season: the conference season. This is
where the gloves are dropped and the teams with the smallest amount of blood
on their jersey in the end are crowned kings. The trouble is figuring out
who’s a king, who’s a joker?

Utah State finished the non-conference season at 9-2, easily the best in the
Big West. But this is a different season, now. In their game against CSUN,
Jan. 2, the Aggies dominated 59-44, but star forward Desmond Penigar
suffered mightily with only eight points on 3-8 shooting from the field.
In his place stepped up forward Cardell Butler who scored 17 points and
guard Ronnie Ross who added 14, the only two players for Utah State in
double figures.

Two days later, the Aggies’ lack of scoring caught up with them as they
faced Pacific. The Tigers defeated the Aggies 66-54, as Pacific (2-0)
remained one of three undefeated teams in the conference joining Cal Poly
San Luis Obispo (2-0) and UC Irvine (1-0). Pacific had four players score in
double figures, as forward Christian Maraker led them with 15. Pacific
forced Utah State into 16 turnovers to only eight assists. Penigar had a
better shooting performance than his prior game as he had 16 points on 6-15
shooting. Pacific creamed Idaho, 73-50, Jan. 2 prior to their Utah State
game. Pacific next hosts CSUN, Jan. 11. The Matadors have started off to a
disappointing conference season at 0-2, with loses to Utah State and Idaho
in overtime.

Cal Poly SLO’s success has to come with smoke and mirrors. They beat up on
Cal State Fullerton, 65-44, Jan. 2. The Titans finished their non-conference
schedule at 2-7. Cal Poly then picked on lowly UC Riverside, Jan. 4, in
their 83-77 victory over the Highlanders, who prior to conference play had a
1-5 record. Care to find out if Cal Poly is for real? They visit Utah State,
Jan. 9 in their next game. Check back next week to find out if they are
contenders or pretenders.

Irvine, in their one win, dominated Long Beach State, 69-52, Jan. 4. Long
Beach had a 1-8 record prior to that game. UCI’s next game is at Fullerton,
Jan. 8. Their first real test comes Jan. 15 when they host Utah State.
Defending tournament champs UC Santa Barbara are at a standstill with a 1-1
record. They, like every other team in the conference, had their way with
Riverside in a convincing 65-49 win, somewhat resembling their championship
form from last season. However, looking more like this season’s biggest
disappointment, they dropped their next game, Jan. 4, to Fullerton, 57-55,
in overtime.

Cal State Full of It in Trouble Off the Court, As Well

After hyping up their season due to the signing of five new junior college
recruits for the first time since prior legal troubles, Cal State Fullerton
started the year 2-7. The new transfers have helped the Titans average over
64 points per game so far, yet as a team, they have yet to gel on defense,
allowing nearly 70. Now, comes a whole new form of the word defense.
Star junior center Pape Sow pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petty theft
charges in an Orange County court, according to a recent Los Angeles Times
report, Jan. 3. By doing so he avoided jail time and could be back in
uniform within a week.

According to the report, Sow was arrested Dec. 7 after he stole a $17 knit
cap from the school bookstore. Just 15 months prior, he was arrested for
taking $140 worth of merchandise from a local department store.
As of Jan. 5, Sow was averaging 15.9 points per game to go with 8.7 rebounds
and 51 percent shooting from the field.

Pacific’s Maraker Hits the Mark

After averaging 20.5 points and eight rebounds per game for the week,
Pacific redshirt freshman forward Christian Maraker was named Big West
Player of the Week, Dec. 30. He led the Tigers to wins over Western Kentucky
and Saint Joseph’s.

Against Western Kentucky, Maraker scored a career-high 24 points on 11-14
shooting and had nine rebounds in the Tiger’s 70-57 victory. The forward
then scored 17 points to go with seven rebounds in Pacific’s 62-50 victory
over Saint Joseph’s.


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