It was Emmanuel Omogbo’s night.
When the junior forward checked in for the first time against San Jose State, one referee decided he needed to tie his shoe, conveniently letting the standing ovation in Moby Arena last an extra moment.
Omogbo, just over a week removed from the tragedy that took both of his parents and his twin two-year-old niece and nephew, repeatedly delivered in crunch time to help the Rams squeak by the Spartans.
It was his first game back since returning from the funeral service in Maryland. The flight and other expenses were paid for by a GoFundMe account set up by CSU and approved by the NCAA.
Among those to donate was the man trying to find a way to stop him Wednesday night, San Jose State head coach Dave Wojcik.
“I became aware of it last Tuesday, I think when everyone did,” Wojcik said of the tragedy. “We were actually at Boise State at the time. I called Coach Eustachy and said ‘hey, where can I send money?’ I didn’t even know they had a fund. They were just working on it at the time. When he told me, I called my wife and we donated money for him. My heart goes out to him, from my family and I, and from my players. I just can’t even imagine it. And the kid has done a great job of handling it, just seeing him out there playing. I wanted to help him in any way I could.”
Omogbo scored all of his 11 points (and went 4-for-4) in the final 12 minutes against SJSU, and also pulled down seven rebounds. But even as the opposing coach, Wojcik enjoyed the CSU player’s big performance.
“Absolutely, it’s good to see him out there,” Wojcik said. “It’s probably his stress reliever, whatever word you want to call it. His getaway. It was good to see him out there and playing. I don’t know him personally, but he seems like a great kid. I talked to him afterwards and I just wanted to congratulate him on handling it the way he handled it, because I don’t know if I could handle it that way. He’s a strong kid, he’s a tough kid. I just told him I’m thinking about him and I’m praying for him.”
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.