Men’s basketball team wins five consecutive games

By Erik Carr

Following back-to-back wins for the first time this season, the
Cal Poly Pomona reigning NCAA Div. II national champion men’s
basketball team is now on a five-game winning streak.

Last week, the Broncos defeated Cal State San Bernardino, Cal
State East Bay and UC San Diego, 69-61, 69-60, and 54-52,
respectively.

The Broncos are now 9-6 overall and 6-5 in conference play,
moving up two spots to sixth place in the CCAA.

This marks the first time this season in which the Broncos’ CCAA
record is above .500.

The Broncos finished their weekend with a nail-biting, 54-52
victory over the UC San Diego Tritons.

“I think we kept playing some defense even though we made some
bad rotations [and] gave them some open looks but I think in
reality, we played with poise down the stretch for the first time
in a while,” said head coach Greg Kamansky. “To do this on the
third city in the fifth day for us is really a great accomplishment
for them and I’m real proud of them.

“They hung in there and even though they made that big run and
took the lead, we could have folded and we didn’t. That shows you a
high-character team right there.”

Senior guard Mark Rutledge, junior forward Dwayne Fells and
sophomore guard Mitchel Anderson all scored 12 points.

Despite six ties and eight lead changes during the game, an
Anderson 3-pointer gave the Broncos a 50-49 lead with 3:09 left in
the game.

“It felt good even to hit a 3[-pointer],” Anderson said. “I’ve
been struggling lately. So it was about time it started falling in
and [since it was a] clutch three, it made me feel even
better.”

After sophomore guard Tyler McGrath hit his fifth 3-pointer at
six seconds left to play, making the score, 53-52, Fells, who hit a
jumper five seconds earlier, hit his first of two free throw
attempts, to make the score, 54-52.

Fells regarded making a free throw as a redemption shot.

“My mind was pretty much blank,” Fells said. “That last three
they hit was kind of my fault for not getting there. I was just
thinking make these last free throws and you’ll be good.”

With one second remaining, senior guard Ryan Casey missed a
desperation jumper to tie the game, which senior forward Tobias
Jahn grabbed for the defensive rebound and the win.

In spite of dismal field-goal shooting from both teams, Rutledge
was the exception in the first half.

Rutledge was on a tear from behind the arc, making all four of
his attempts, which accounted for all 12 of his points.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game [and] a defensive game,”
Rutledge said. “It was there for me to step up and make shots. So,
I just took it upon myself to do that.”

The Broncos gained their largest first-half lead on Rutledge’s
fourth 3-pointer with 39 seconds remaining, making the score,
29-22.

The Broncos won their first road game of the season against Cal
State East Bay, 69-60, last Thursday.

Senior forward Kevin Menner led the Broncos with 14 points, two
assists, three rebounds and one block. He was one of six Broncos
who scored in double figures.

Junior guard Matt Rosser scored 12 points and had three
assists.

Fells had 11 points, one assist and seven rebounds.

Elsewhere, Rutledge, Jahn and Anderson all scored 10 points.

On defense, senior forward Donnelle Booker made his mark with a
game-leading two blocks and a share of the game-leading three
steals.

The Broncos entered the second half in a 30-30 tie with the
Pioneers. But a 9-0 run, highlighted by Rosser’s 3-pointer and
dunk, put the Broncos into a commanding lead in the second
half.

The Broncos led by as many as 14 when Fells hit a layup with
9:12 left to play to make the score, 57-43.

Later on, the Broncos went through a 4:20 scoring drought in
which the Pioneers went on a 9-0 run, bringing the Broncos’ lead
down to four. But the Broncos never surrendered the lead,
cushioning it with six-straight free throws including four by Fells
and two by Rutledge.

The first half was a war of score in which three ties and three
lead changes occurred.

A Fells layup broke a 28-28 tie to make the score, 30-28, which
was followed by senior forward Jared Waters’ successful trip to the
free throw line, which evened the score at 30-30 and closed the
book of the first half.

The Broncos finished their homestand on Tuesday, upsetting the
third-place Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes, 69-61.

“We kept playing ‘D’ [un]til the end,” Kamansky said. “When
teams would maybe come back on us, now they’re not coming quite all
the way back. We’re progressing.

“Sometimes, it’s just about making shots and tonight, we made
enough of them and we got out to a good enough lead. Again, we
missed a lot of free throws, but hopefully in a closer game, we’ll
make those. That’s where we were last year.”

The Broncos had three players in double figures.

Anderson had 14 points, one assist, seven rebounds and one
block.

Booker also scored 14. Battling a torn meniscus, the battered
player also had a game-leading three blocks, one assist and five
rebounds.

“Coach is always telling me if I come out with energy, I’ll have
a productive game,” Booker said. “The good thing about my game [is]
I don’t have to focus on one specific area of the game. I just go
out there and bring energy and things happen.”

Rutledge had 13 points, including several clutch free throws and
three rebounds, and credited the Broncos’ early offensive as a key
component in the victory.

“I think the most important part was taking it to them early,”
Rutledge said. “They weren’t really ready for it and we came at
them and we just jumped on them from the jump.”

The game’s second half was when the nature of frustration,
foreshadowed by the high pregame tension between the teams, came to
fruition when Coyotes head coach Jeff Oliver was ejected after
receiving his second technical for arguing with the referees with
19:13 left in the game.

The Broncos, who led by 15 at the half, expanded their lead to
21 when Jahn hit a layup with 15:05 left, making the score,
45-24.

This was the last Bronco basket for 6:58 and in that time, the
Coyotes went on a 12-0 run, which cut the Broncos’ lead to
nine.

The Broncos then went on a 6-0 run, capped off by Anderson, who
at 2:40 left in the game, thrilled the more than 1,000 in
attendance with a dunk to make the score, 59-45.

In the final minute of play, the Coyotes managed to cut the lead
down to four after going on a 16-6 run when senior forward Robbie
Robinson hit the last two of his perfect 5 of 5 performance from
the line to make the score, 65-61.

With 17 seconds to play, Rutledge was fouled twice by Robinson
and gave another clutch performance, making all four of his free
throws and doubling the lead to make the score, 69-61.

In the first half, an Anderson layup just 37 seconds into the
game gave the Broncos the lead and they never surrendered it. They
led by as many as 17 when Rutledge hit his first of eight free
throws with three seconds left in the half.

At the end of the weekend’s CCAA action, the Tritons (9-9, 4-8)
fell one spot to eighth place while the Pioneers (2-14, 0-12)
remained in 12th place and the Coyotes (10-5, 8-3) remained in
third.

The Broncos finish their road trip with games against Cal State
Monterey Bay and San Francisco State this Thursday and Saturday,
respectively.

“Every team is right there with each other pretty much,”
Kamansky said. “If we can play with some poise down the stretch,
you’ve got to win the close games.”

Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.

Men

Jonny Tai / The Poly Post

Men’s basketball team wins five consecutive games

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