Yanai Wins 200th as Toros Plod Past N. Colorado, 49-46 : College basketball: It wasn’t pretty. Only 77 people watched. But the Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball coach reached a career milestone.
Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball Coach Dave Yanai finally won his 200th collegiate game Saturday night, but it wasn’t pretty.
In a game that featured 36 turnovers, horrible field-goal shooting and the inability of either team to sustain momentum, host Dominguez Hills managed to outlast pesky Northern Colorado, 49-46, and hand the man Indiana Coach Bobby Knight calls “one of the best coaches in the nation,” a mark that has been on hold for some time.
Ironically, only 77 people were in the Toro gym for the tip-off, but that is no surprise to Yanai. He has toiled in anonymity here for 14 seasons, with one of the smallest budgets of any Division II coach.
“I really didn’t think about the 200-win thing unless someone reminded me of it” Yanai said. “At this time, the faces of the players of the past come to mind. We have had a great deal of effort and commitment to this program.”
Yanai’s wife, Sae, who witnessed Saturday night’s contest, said her husband never considered the impact of his 200th victory.
“With what he has had to put up with, I’m surprised he got this far,” she said.
Senior guard Robert Barksdale, who scored 10 points Saturday night, has been involved of 50 of those victories. He said Yanai is more interested in his players than he in the milestone.
“He cares about us as individuals, not just as players. He wants us to be better people.”
Dominguez Hills has won only 18 of its last 45 games, and the 200-win watch has been in effect ever since March, 1989, when Yanai guided the Toros into the Western Regionals with a 20-10 record.
But last season, with only one starter returning, the Toros fell to 10-17. This year the team is 4-4.
Yanai calls this club the “most talented I have had.” Unfortunately, it has yet to prove it. Dominguez Hills made just 16 of 62 field goal attempts (25.8%) Saturday night, and 21 of 49 (43%) last Thursday when it edged Point Loma, 55-54.
Dominguez Hills jumped out to a 10-0 lead as Northern Colorado (1-5), committed seven of its game-high 23 turnovers in the first five minutes.
But the Bears, who had a front line averaging 6-foot-7 1/2, rallied and trailed only 25-24 at the half.
The Toros took a 33-26 lead three minutes into the final period, but Northern Colorado went on a 10-2 spurt and took its first lead, 36-35, with 11:20 remaining.
The Bears led by as many as three points, but Dominguez Hills tied it at 43 with 5:29 to go on two free throws by guard Sal Serrano.
That put the game into the hands of senior Division I transfer Keith Billingslea, who became eligible to play Friday after sitting out a year.
Billingslea, a transfer from Northern Arizona, made a key steal and lay-in with 4:45 to go, hit a three-point field goal 2 1/2 minutes later, then sank one of two free throws with 34 seconds left.