By Enrique Cervantes
The Cal Poly Pomona Broncos took their 7 game win streak on the road and came out victorious with wins against the Cal State Los Angeles Golden Eagles, 64-57, and Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros, 60-52.
Senior guard DeRonn Scott led the Broncos in scoring with 17 points and 7 rebounds against the Golden Eagles. Scott credits that it was once again the Broncos defense that helped them hold onto the win.
“Stopping [James] Tillman and [Quinton] Watkins [was the key],” said Scott. “That was pretty much the reason we came over the top.”
Head coach Greg Kamansky also stated that defense was a key factor coming into Friday’s game against the Golden Eagles.
“Defensively, I thought we were pretty stingy again,” said Kamansky. “They’re a big physical team, the way we battled that’s what stands out. Really happy about that.”
The Broncos started the game aggressive on defense but slow and stagnant on the offensive side. The game was slowed down by the referees calling the game tight and hindering the rhythm of the game that affected both teams early.
“I honestly feel like they missed a lot of calls,” said Scott. “I feel like I should’ve been to the free throw line a couple times more than I was.”
It was the Eagles who got started scoring first, with the Broncos falling into an early 5-0 deficit after a few minutes.
After several missed shots and missed rebounds, the Broncos would pull to within eight halfway through the first half.
CPP took over from there after a couple of dunks by sophomore center Jordan Faison. The momentum began to change and the Broncos began to take over the game.
“Faison was a man tonight,” said Kamansky. “He was a lot different than the Sonoma game. His toughness and physicality was a lot better tonight.”
With seven minutes left in the first half, the Broncos would take their first lead at 20-19. Their defense also grew stout, forcing 10 turnovers.
The game would take a scary turn after freshmen guard Jeremy Dennis took an apparent elbow to the face when diving for the ball. He landed head first onto the court, but eventually walked off under his own power.
The Broncos team was playing their type of ball now, being aggressive and stingy. They would end the first half on a 22-7 run, holding the Eagles scoreless for 4 minutes and taking a 33-26 lead into the half.
“We were stagnant offensively early,” said Kamansky. “We were able to get the ball to Faison more consistently. It opens up our offense once we’re able to get inside and he gets to work a little bit, that really helps our shooters and gets our offense running.”
The second half began the same way as the first half, quick whistles and missed shots and turnovers by the Broncos. The Eagles quickly overcame the tough defense and pulled themselves back after a few minutes.
Junior forward Chad Haysbert got the Broncos going, providing a spark with great rebounds and added points when needed. Senior guard Connor Gacek also added critical minutes for the Broncos, helping move the ball around and score when needed to.
“Connor was huge for us tonight,” said Kamansky. “He played seventeen minutes, he hadn’t played seventeen minutes all year. Connor was a huge contribution hitting a couple threes off the bench.”
Despite all the fouls and questionable calls, Faison continued to be dominant in the middle, drawing double teams and opening up lanes for cutting players to the basket.
With just over 6 minutes left, both teams began to quicken the pace, running up and down the court for quick baskets. The game would be tied at 51 with 5 minutes remaining.
At this point, the Broncos defense locked in and Faison took the game over. He began demanding the ball low in the post, forcing easy baskets and hard fouls. He would finish the game with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
The Broncos players began diving and sacrificing their bodies for extra possessions, continuing their aggressive style of play.
“We were fine,” said Kamansky. “This is the most physical game we had. We have three guys injured that may not play tomorrow. We went toe-to-toe with them tonight, it was like a fist fight.”
The Broncos would hold on the last few minutes, fighting off through five lead changes and would eventually come out on top, 64-57 and extending the winning streak to eight games into Saturday’s game against Cal State Dominguez Hills.
“We got to keep it going,” said Scott. “They’re a pretty good team too. So we got to come in with a lot of energy and execute the game plan coaches have for us.”
Kamansky praised his defense for holding Golden Eagles guard Quinton Watkins, who averaged 21 PPG, to only 12 points.
“Watkins and Tillman, we knew they were gonna shoot about forty shots,” said Kamansky. “We made it hard on him and did a good job on Watkins.”
Scott would finish the game leading the Broncos with 17 points and 7 rebounds, but still said there was room for improvement.
“I missed a lot of shots,” said Scott. “I give it a passing grade cause I got seven rebounds and I hit some free throws. I’ve been struggling from the line the last few games, but I most of my free throws this game.”
Both Kamansky and Scott would also downplay the seven-game winning streak, saying the Broncos focus only on the opponent standing across from them.
“Honestly, it gave us a little confidence,” said Scott. “It gave us momentum and we just wanted to run with it.”
The Broncos would again hit the road as they traveled up to Cal State Dominguez Hills to play the Toros. They would win a nail-biter 60-52 and extend the winning streak to nine games.
Scott and Faison led all scorers with 18 and 16 points, respectively, but as a team the Broncos struggled from three-point range.
They connected on just 25 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, but shot 79 percent from the free throw line.
The Broncos will host Chico State on Thursday and Cal State Stanislaus on Saturday, both at 7:30 p.m.
Danny Huynh/The Poly Post
Broncos win streak at 9
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