Five minutes into the game, fifth-year senior guard Quentin Taylor converted what seemed to be a routine three-pointer.

After 35 minutes and 20 more three-point attempts, that routine three represented the only made three for the Broncos.

Both teams made 20 field goals, but Saint Martin’s made nine 3-pointers en route to a 66-58 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 9 in Monmouth, Oregon.

“We make five out of 20, it’s a whole different game,” coach Greg Kamansky said. “It’s hard to get your spirit up when you keep missing so many shots.”

Luke Chavez scored 16 points while shooting 3-for-5 from three as Saint Martin’s beat the Broncos 66-58 in the NCAA Tournament. (Courtesy of Chris Oertell)

For Saint Martin’s, junior guards Luke Chavez and E.J. Boyce combined to score eight of the Saints’ nine 3-pointers and combined to shoot 50 percent from three.

Boyce in particular made the Broncos pay from deep early and often as he went 5-for-14 from three and led both teams in scoring with 19 points.

Four of the Saints’ first six made field goals came from three with Boyce scoring two.

“We play a zone and you try to guard a guy with non-man principles but once a guy gets kind of hot and gets comfortable out there it’s kind of tough to stop a 45 percent type shooter,” Taylor said.

Saint Martin’s ended the first half with a 13-4 run during a six-minute stretch when Cal Poly Pomona failed to make a field goal.

The Broncos trailed 32-21 at the half. Similar to the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament final against UC San Diego, the Broncos trailed by as many as 18  with 10 minutes to play and like the matchup against the Tritons, CPP nearly pulled off the comeback.

“Second half they got a lot of their open looks on guys just not getting to a certain spot and covering for each other once we pressed, so their shooter was left wide open early,” Kamansky said.

Sophomore guard William Christmas did not score in the first half but scored four straight points to cap off a 12-0 CPP run that pulled the Broncos within six with 6:04 remaining.

“We pretty much tried to press them, pick up the intensity on defense which gave us a bit of a chance,” Taylor said.

The Saints responded with a 3-pointer by Chavez that put Saint Martin’s up 55-46 with 5:15 left in the game.

“We needed to make a couple big shots and we had a couple wide open looks and we just couldn’t make it,” Kamansky said.

“There was just a lid on the rim tonight for us and we just couldn’t get that one or two big shots we needed to all of a sudden make it a two-point game.”

Another run by CPP, this time 7-0 left the Broncos down 59-54 with 2:54 left in the game.

CPP had a chance to make it a one possession game, but Taylor missed from three with 55 seconds remaining.

In the final minute, the Broncos missed three 3-pointers.

“Those looks are easier when you’re up 15 instead of down three,” Kamansky said. “We never put pressure on them to play from behind.”

Christmas and junior guard Jordan Ogundiran both averaged double-digit points per game this season but did not score a field goal in the first half.

Ogundiran made three free throws and Christmas had no points.

William Christmas, left and Jordan Ogundiran attempt to dispossess Tavian Henderson, center. (Courtesy of Chris Oertell)

“We tried to open up the court more and make more driving lanes for them,” Kamansky said. “They were driving and trying to kick some and we couldn’t make shots and that puts more pressure on them…it just creates a domino effect.”

The team will lose guards Taylor, Jeff Nibo, Jeremy Dennis and Daylan Lawrence, but will return three of the starting five next season.

Second-team National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II All-District selections for the west region Christmas and Ogundiran lead the list of returners for next season.

“They need to see how much better they need to get,” Kamansky said. “We know we need to get a lot better if we are going to compete with these guys.”

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