By David Wilson
Men’s basketball snapped a four-game losing streak by winning back-to-back games in their return to Kellogg Arena, including a 63-60 victory over California Collegiate Athletic Association league leaders Chico State.
The Wildcats were on a 10-game winning streak and were handed just their second CCAA loss on Saturday night.
The Broncos opened the game with freshman guard Riley Schaefer knocking down a three-pointer to start the game. That was the last time the game was tied as Cal Poly Pomona led for the rest of the game.
Three minutes later, freshman forward Justin Young brought Kellogg Arena to its feet with a one- handed slam dunk.
Junior guard Jeremy Dennis set the tone for the Broncos on defense with a ferocious block midway through the first half.
“I just wanted us to physically compete with them,” said head coach Greg Kamansky. “I always know that if we physically compete with that team we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
The Broncos stretched their lead to 14 points thanks to excellent three- point shooting the first half.
CPP was five of six from beyond the arc, with Schaefer leading the way shooting a perfect three-for-three.
Schaefer finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists. CPP took a 31-19 lead into the break.
Chico State opened the second half with a 13-5 run, cutting the Broncos lead to four. CPP kept Chico at arm’s length throughout the second half, never surrendering the lead.
“We were really focused on locking them down on defense, communicating, talking and staying together,” said freshman guard William Christmas.
Christmas led all Broncos shooting five of six from the field and scoring 13 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and notched two assists.
CPP’s bench outscored Chico State’s bench 30-16 with sophomore forward Henry Cornelious making the biggest impact off the bench scoring 10 points in 12 minutes of action.
“That’s why you call it a basketball team,” said Kamansky. “Guys that haven’t played much are starting to step it up and played with confidence tonight. That’s what it takes.”
The Broncos were down three players Saturday night as senior guard Quentin Taylor, sophomore guard Chris Sullivan and freshman guard Nikhil Peters were out injured.
“We got a big win at home and we don’t even have our full squad right now,” said Christmas. “When those guys come back and can help us out and we can stay gelling as a team and get more team chemistry we can be tougher to beat.”
The Broncos struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 54 percent, but knocked down some key free throws in the final few minutes to seal the victory.
Cornelious missed his first three free throws, but was perfect on his last four attempts.
“I was rushing my shots,” said Cornelious. “And then I just relaxed, took my time and knocked them down even though Chico State was talking to me.”
With back-to-back wins, CPP improves to 5-10 overall and 3-8 in CCAA play. The Broncos are 4-3 at Kellogg Arena, but have yet to win on the road.
“When we are home we have that support, we have our fans cheering us on and when we get the momentum the crowd is cheering for us to really get going,” said Cornelious. “When we’re on the road it’s hard, we have to keep ourselves going, block out the fans, play hard and stay together as a team.”
The Broncos opened the week defeating Stanislaus State 55-54 on Thursday night.
Leading the way for CPP was junior guard Daylan Lawrence who scored 11 points. Sophomore guard Jordan Ogundiran was not far behind with 10 points.
CPP held Stanislaus to just 23 points in the first half.
The men are on the road again next weekend when they take on Cal State Monterey Bay and Cal State East Bay on Friday and Saturday.
“With a young team, an inexperienced team, it’s a long grind for them right now,” said Kamansky. “We were able to bring that energy back tonight and we can play against the top team in the league and one of the top teams in the region, so we’re pretty happy about that.”
Albert Muro / The Poly Post
Freshman guard Mason Dickerson attempting to score for the Broncos in the beginning of the game.
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