Miracle playoff run ends in defeat

By Michael Zavala

The men’s basketball team defeated No. 1 seed Humboldt State and
No. 5 seed Cal State Dominguez Hills before losing to UC San Diego
on Saturday in the finals of the California Collegiate Athletic
Association Tournament.

After two weeks of hard basketball, the men’s team could smell
victory in the finals of the California Collegiate Athletic
Association Tournament.

Cal Poly had secured a spot in the semifinals with a stunning
73-70 victory against No. 1 seed Humboldt State in a taxing game
watched by a rowdy crowd of 1,400 at East Gym. It then followed
that up with a 66-61 win against No. 5 seed Cal State Dominguez
Hills, one of the CCAA’s most athletic teams.

But the weight of so much rigorous travel and emotionally
draining victory after emotionally draining victory seemed to be
too much for the Broncos against UC San Diego.

Key misses at the free throw line and 3-point line and costly
fouls ended the season for a beat Cal Poly team that reached as far
as it could but could not reach far enough, losing to the Tritons
Saturday, 64-56.

“Emotionally, physically, it’s been a long two weeks,” said head
coach Greg Kamansky. “We were prepared for [UCSD], but we just made
some mental mistakes early.”

Because Cal Poly’s ranking is too low, it needed the automatic
berth in Regionals received by the winner of the conference
tournament.

Saturday, Cal Poly went into the half down by nine and struggled
to stop UCSD to begin the second half. The Tritons tore up the
court with an 8-2 run and stretched their lead to as much as 14,
45-31, off a baseline runner from Tournament MVP Henry
Patterson.

But the Broncos then showed why they belonged in the
championship game by going on a huge 16-5 run that six points from
Gordon, including a slam dunk following a crisp bounce pass from
sophomore Donnelle Booker.

UCSD was rattled a bit, and Triton coach Chris Carlson picked up
a technical foul, allowing senior Angelo Tsagarakis to cap the run
with two free throws to close the deficit to three, 50-47.

“We dug in the second half and decided not to go down without a
fight,” said Kamansky. “I’m proud of them.”

That was the closest the Broncos got to a lead, however.

Gordon uncharacteristically missed four free throws in the
following two and a half minutes, and the Tritons caught fire at
the right time. UCSD’s Clint Allard hit a dagger 3-pointer with
5:13 remaining to give the Tritons a seven-point lead, 54-47.

Cal Poly attempted a comeback but couldn’t hit the shots when it
needed to. It was 3-of-8 from the free throw line and 0-for-5 from
the 3-point line after the 6:37 mark in the game.

“We had some wide open looks, but we didn’t hit them and San
Diego did,” said Kamansky.

The final blow for the Broncos came when Tsagarakis, who led the
team with 16 points and was 4-of-7 from 3-point range on the night,
fouled out with 1:27 to play. Cal

Poly went cold from the field, only hitting shots after picking
up offensive rebounds, while UCSD hit all the free throws it needed
down the stretch to claim victory.

UCSD was 19-of-26 from the free throw line, while the Broncos
hit only seven of their 14 free throw attempts.

“In a game like this, free throws make a difference,” said
Kamansky.

Although the loss was tough for Cal Poly, Kamansky said the team
showed immense strength in defeat and built momentum for the
2008-09 season.

“These guys never quit,” said Kamansky. “We played our best ball
of the year at the end of the year; we played harder and smarter
than we did in the beginning of the year.”

Gordon scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while junior
Rich Collins had 11 points off a 3-of-6 night from beyond the
arc.

Gordon and Tsagarakis were named to the all-tournament team
along with Allard, Patterson and Jordan Lawley of UCSD.

Earlier in the week, Gordon was named to the All-CCAA First
Team, while Tsagarakis earned Second Team honors.

The loss marked the final game in the Cal Poly careers of
Tsagarakis and seniors Kaelen Daniels and Kevin Neveu.

Miracle playoff run ends in defeat

Lucio Villa/Poly Post

Miracle playoff run ends in defeat

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