Riverside, CA - Playing their second game in as many days, the men's basketball team played an exhibition game this evening against the Afghanistan National Team. Today's game was the second time in as many seasons that the Golden Eagles have played the exhibition game against the Afghan team. The game was an exciting back and forth battle that went down to the final possession in which Afghanistan pulled out a 57-54 victory. The game ended with an injury to freshmen Marcos Hazelwood who attempted to tie the score as the buzzer sounded but upon landing lost his balance and hit the back of his head on the floor.
The Afghanistan national team is comprised of young men who currently live in the United States and have played at various levels of college basketball. Most team members have dual citizenship and were either born in Afghanistan or born to Afghan nationals. The team travels throughout the country playing exhibition games against NAIA and NCAA competition.
Today's game was back-and-forth from the beginning. Neither team enjoyed a double-digit lead at any point in the game. There were numerous lead changes and ties scores throughout the contest. In fact, neither team had a player scoring in double figures in the first half but Afghanistan would go into halftime with a slim 24-22 lead.
Afghanistan seemed determined to get the ball inside and establish their inside game, with Billal Azizi, a 6'6 forward from Eden Prairie, Minnesota who played at Vanguard University. The Golden Eagles answered with a mix of experience and youth. Josh Zonker scored eight of his 10 points, (eight rebounds), in the second half while the freshmen Hazelwood connected on two 3-point shots down the stretch to finish with eight points. Taylor Scharffenberg led the Golden Eagles with 10 rebounds and also added eight points. Senior guard Bennett Shaw also pitched in eight points, four rebounds, and three assists.
With only three seconds remaining in regulation, Hazelwood caught a pass on the wing and put up a 3-point shot in an attempt to tie the score, but was subsequently blocked, ending the game. But after his shot attempt, Hazelwood landed hard hitting the back of his head, knocking him out for a short period of time.
The spectators remained in their seats and players for both teams gathered around as Hazelwood was attended to by trainer Brian Murphy, until paramedics arrived on the scene to transport him to the hospital for further observation. Upon leaving the floor, Hazelwood was conscious and able to give thumbs up to the fans as he was being wheeled out on a stretcher.
NOTE: Hazelwood's updated condition was not available at the time the article was posted.
The Golden Eagles men's basketball team will be back in action on Friday afternoon when they travel to California State University - Los Angeles. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00pm