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San Marcos Slams Door on Santa Barbara, 52-31

Royals use Nordin's muscle to put a decisive end to Dons' rivalry win streak.

After losing their last six games against rival Santa Barbara, San Marcos came into Friday’s game with a chip on its shoulder. Even though the Royals boast the better record this season, few thought they would be able to contain star Dons guard Roberto Nelson well enough to pull out a victory.

The 18-7 Royals disproved their doubters in convincing fashion, however, crushing Santa Barbara, 52-31, thanks in large part to their Swedish center, Frank Nordin.

Playing in a neutral arena, SBCC’s Sports Pavilion, both team’s fans were pumped up in anticipation of the game. As the squads battled back and forth, the fans tried to be as distracting as possible to the opposing players to give their team a completive edge.

As the 6-foot-6-inch Nordin described it, “The fans are really intense. I love it!”

The Royals had a rocky start in the first quarter, committing turnovers on two of their first three possessions, and letting Santa Barbara take an early lead.

The momentum seemed to shift toward San Marcos late in the first quarter when junior forward Chris Vines made a great push to the basket and completed a three-point play, followed by a Santa Barbara air ball on the other end. The Royals fed off that energy and took control of the game, mustering a 12-1 run until midway though the second quarter.

Santa Barbara stayed in the game thanks to its great ball movement. Nelson’s vision allowed him to set up open shots for his teammates. Unfortunately for the Dons, though, they struggled from the field despite their open looks.

As a result, Nelson tried to put the game in his own hands, and had some success. After a third-quarter steal, he had a chance for an easy layup, was fouled on the play and got spun around in midair and shot over his head. Partisans of the green and gold erupted as the ball trickled through the rim, before realizing the foul occurred before the shot was taken, nullifying the basket. He also had a number of impressive moves to the basket that did count, finishing with nine points.

“They did a nice job of closing on Roberto and bringing help," Dons head coach Chris Hantgin said afterward. "We just weren’t able to make the right adjustments.”

Santa Barbara senior Willie Reese-Jordan had his hands full as he and Nordin battled all night in the low post. He kept Nordin at bay for most of the game, holding him to just eight points. Another player of note was San Marcos’ Trevor Hopkins, who led all scorers with 15, including a few momentum-swinging three-pointers late in the game.

Late in the final period, the Dons attempted to make one last push. After being taunted by San Marcos fans at the free-throw line, Santa Barbara senior Marques Morten faced the crowd and raised a finger to his lips to silence them. He quickly realized he had not gotten back in time for the Royals’ fast break and saw Nordin all alone on the other end of the court slam home the dagger with two hands.

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