Big West Tournament cancelation ends men’s basketball season


Hector Lopez

The Honda Center in Anaheim, California closes just hours before the men’s basketball Big West tournament was about to begin on March 12.

Andres Soto, Assistant Sports Editor

Covid logoWhen the 2019-20 men’s basketball season was about to start, Terrell Gomez had an ambitious goal in the back of his mind.

“My number one goal for this season is to get to the NCAA tournament,” he said back in October. “I think that would be a great accomplishment for me and the team.”

Fast-forward to the morning of March 12 and the Matadors were in a position to potentially get there. They were the No. 2 seed in the Big West tournament and riding a four-game winning streak that included significant victories over the University of Hawai’i and the top-seed UC Irvine. All CSUN had to do was win three more games and they would be in the big dance, but they didn’t even get the opportunity to do so.

Just under two hours before tip-off between CSUN and Cal State Fullerton to open the men’s tournament, the Big West Conference made the decision to cancel both men’s and women’s basketball tournaments amidst growing concerns over spread of COVID-19.

“The main priority of the Big West Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus,” Assistant Commissioner Mike Villamor said in a press release.

The Big West originally planned to hold the tournament without spectators as recently as Tuesday afternoon, but then the NBA shut their doors on Wednesday night after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the virus. All power-five conferences (Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big XII) announced the cancelation of their conference tournaments early Thursday morning before the Big West followed suit.

The NCAA tournament was canceled as of 1:16 p.m. on Thursday.

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” said the NCAA in a statement.

This marks an unusual and disappointing end for one of the more exciting CSUN basketball seasons in recent memory. Their 10-6 conference record was the program’s best finish and first time getting double digit conference wins since 2009, the last year the Matadors won a Big West championship.

Gomez and Lamine Diane were named First Team All-Big West for the second year in a row, becoming the first CSUN players to be selected to the First Team twice. Diane was also named Big West Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. He is the first Matador to win back-to-back Player of the Year honors and the eighth player in conference history to accomplish the feat twice.

We could have very well seen the last of Diane in a CSUN uniform considering he is seen as a potential NBA prospect. It remains to be seen if Diane will go pro or return for his junior season.

With the top scoring offense in the conference, CSUN had the potential to make a lot of noise in March, but it was all silenced before it even got the chance.


Editor’s Note: Photo caption location corrected from Long Beach to Anaheim.