Point Loma’s last experience together on the floor in 2020 couldn’t have been any better.
Brock Mackenzie's buzzer-beating three against Biola in the PacWest Championship punched the Sea Lions ticket to the NCAA Tournament, setting off a frenzied celebration.
“That's a memory that our guys will remember forever,” Point Loma Nazarene head coach Matt Logie said. ”Will go down as one of the highlight games of my career.”
The events of the following week will likely end up being just as memorable, but for a far different reason. On the eve of PLNU’s first round game in the Division II tournament, the NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s basketball championships. The coronavirus outbreak brought their season to an unsatisfying conclusion.
“The timing of these events are something that will take that opportunity away forever,” Logie said on March 12, 2020.
On Friday a new opportunity arrives. Logie's team will finally return to the NCAA Tournament, exactly one year after the 2020 was called off. They will face Northwest Nazarene at Colorado School of Mines.
“It's been a heck of a 365 days since the last NCAA Selection Show,” Logie remarked Tuesday.
The Sea Lions received an at-large bid despite playing just 10 games. Point Loma’s first game was on January 15, then later that month went on a two week pause after a player tested positive for COVID-19. That break cost them three games. After going 8-2 the team is ranked 24th in the country and was rewarded with a spot in the West Regional.
“We're grateful to be recognized as worthy, and excited for the opportunity to go prove ourselves.”
Despite the abbreviated season, Logie says his guys are March ready.
“I've been really impressed with our group. I think for the most part they've just kind of rolled with the punches. That's the best way to describe the last 365 days.”
Now after a trying year they get their chance to have their say in the ending to this season, an opportunity they didn’t have 12 months ago.
“I'm excited,” Logie said. “I think we can beat anybody in our region on any given night, but we've gotta play well to do it. Our guys have learned some lessons that way this year that will hopefully serve us well this week.”