Broncos play for first place tonight

By Elliot Heis

Cal Poly’s men’s basketball team will face Cal State San
Bernardino tonight with the CCAA’s top place up for grabs for both
teams.

“This is a big game, and in this conference anybody can beat
anybody,” head coach Greg Kamansky said.

Tonight’s game is also a “Pack the Gym” night, with tip-off set
for 7:30 p.m. in Kellogg Gym.

The No. 22 Broncos have the opportunity to take first place
after two hard-earned wins at home over the weekend, defeating the
Sonoma State Seawolves 74-60 and the Humboldt State Lumberjacks
58-55.

Against Sonoma State the Broncos faced high-pressure, full-court
defense the whole second half after going into the break up by 13
points, but a season-best 56.8 field goal percentage allowed Cal
Poly to defend its lead and come away with the victory.

As the Seawolves turned up the pressure, the Broncos were
reminded of their loss to Chico State Jan. 3 in which they gave up
a 14-point lead to eventually lose in overtime.

“Last weekend was a real lesson for us that no lead is big
enough in this conference,” junior forward Donnelle Booker
said.

Booker led the Broncos on offense with game-highs of 17 points
and six rebounds.

Booker energized Cal Poly with two dunks and clutch moment
scoring in the final minutes of play.

“I try not to think about it as a big shot,” Booker said.
“Because that’s when nerves start coming into it.”

Sophomore forward Dwayne fells scored 16 for the Broncos and
also pulled down six rebounds.

Cal Poly enjoyed a balanced offensive effort for the night in
which all players scored.

The Broncos went into the halftime break down 10 points to
Humboldt State after being held to just 18 points in the half.

The conference-contender Lumberjacks made every possession a
fight for the Broncos, playing full-count defense the entire game,
forcing senior guard Dahir Nasser to fight up the court after every
Humboldt score.

“Everything takes energy from you, but you’ve got to do it to
win,” Nasser said.

The Broncos overcame the deficit with fluid passing and
excellent shot selection, with Humboldt unable to slow the Broncos
momentum. The offensive effort by Cal Poly led to a season-high
half of 40 points ending the game up by three.

“We just had to attack, and attack smart,” Kamansky said.

The Broncos’ second half comeback came thanks to a 59.3
field-goal percentage and just one turnover after turning the ball
over seven times in the opening 20 minutes.

“We just tried to spread them out and take good shots,” Nasser
said.

Fells led the scoring for the Broncos with 13 in a balanced
effort while senior guard Austin Swift and junior forward Tobias
Jahn each scored 10.

Defensively, the Broncos were led by Booker with six rebounds
and three blocks and by freshman guard Mitchel Anderson with four
rebounds and three steals.

The Broncos could not take time to dwell on the weekend’s
victories, with focus immediately shifting to tonight’s matchup
against conference rival Cal State San Bernardino.

“These are the games you play for,” Kamansky said. “You don’t
take anyone for granted but these are high level games, CCAA
tournament-level games.”

After sitting out last season with a knee injury, Booker will
look to make the most of big games like this.

“I don’t take anything for granted, because last year I was
injured in the second practice of the season so I play each day
like it could be my last,” Booker said.

The Broncos will continue their home stand Friday against Cal
State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles on Saturday. Both
games are at 7:30 p.m. in Kellogg Gym.

Reach Elliot Heis at: sports@thepolypost.com

Broncos play for first place tonight

Pedro Corona/Poly Post

Broncos play for first place tonight

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