By Andrew Gordo
The Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball team ended its run in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament on Monday. With an 81-58 loss against the Cal Baptist University Lancers in the West Regional Title game in Anchorage, Alaska, the Broncos ended their season.
This contest marked the third time in five years that the Broncos were in contention for the West Regional Championship. In the game, Cal Baptist proved to be a smart team who could shoot from the perimeter and run in transition.
The Lancers kept the Broncos off-balance from the start, never letting them build an offensive rhythm. CBU forced turnovers and capitalized on the offensive end.
The Lancers were able to score 23 points off turnovers, hold the Broncos to 22 points in the paint and convert 11 three-point field goals.
CPP did face a huge deficit, but put up an effort. Senior forwards Jada Blackwell and Ashley Lovett led the team in their last collegiate game. Blackwell led the Broncos with 24 points, while Lovett had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Although CPP was not able to get the win on Monday, they did well in their first two games.
The Broncos opened up the tournament on March 13 with a matchup against conference rival and champion, the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros.
Not only was this game the third meeting between these two teams this season, but it was also the best game.From the tipoff, both teams came out hungry and ready to play. The Broncos proved they wanted the win more with their energy and strong defense.
“I think our defense really dictated our offense, and we were able to get easy looks inside,” said senior guard Ariel Marsh. “Not only because we have the best post player in the country, but because we were able to get stops on defense and then really pound the ball inside. We stuck to our game and Bronco basketball.”
For the majority of the first half, the teams traded buckets back and forth. However with five minutes remaining in the half, the Broncos went on a run and led by seven at the half.
The Broncos were able to maintain their rhythm and momentum in the second half, as they locked the explosive Toro offense down and secured the 61-57 win.
“The team just really rallied together differently than they have the last couple of games,” said head coach Danelle Bishop. “We were locked in on the player personnel, and it helped.
“It was just a team effort, and they just went out and played really hard. It was good. I’m proud of them.”
CPP moved on to face the Seattle Pacific University Falcons, winning 90-74. This matchup featured the Broncos’ strong post game against the Falcons’ strong perimeter shooting.
The teams proved to match up well. As the Broncos methodically ran their offense in the post, the Falcons hit three point field goals.
Right before halftime the Broncos were down by seven, but were able to rally and go into intermission up by four. Although CPP was shooting 60 percent in the first half, they only found themselves up by four.
“[The Falcons] have some really good shooters,” said Bishop on second half adjustments. “We talked about weathering the storm, and then we tried to tighten up a little bit more.”
CPP adjusted to the three-point shot in the second half and continued to attack. However, the Falcons kept fighting.With 8:02 remaining, the Falcons had a seven-point lead.
“We had to lock down on defense,” said Bishop. “We refocused, and I think after that they only scored four points.”
For the second time in the game, the Broncos had to step up. At the 4:53 mark, CPP took the lead and ended the game on a 21-4 run.
“It’s the time of year where teams are good and they are going to hit their shots,” said Bishop. “But at the end of the day, who ever can weather the storm and get through those runs will win the game.”
CPP took the win, scoring 54 points in the paint and 28 more from the free throw line.
Regardless of the tournament results, the Broncos had a memorable 2014-2015 season.
Aside from making it to the Sweet 16, Blackwell and Marsh reached the 1,000-point mark in their Bronco career. Blackwell also earned the California Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year honor for the second year in a row, and Bishop picked up her 100th win as the Broncos head coach.
In the 2015-16 season, expect the Broncos to stay relentless and hungry for more.
Hayden Yi / The Poly Post
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