Men’s basketball was unable to complete the comeback as the team fell short Saturday night, 71-62, against UC San Diego in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) conference tournament championship game.
It was a rematch from last year as Cal Poly Pomona and UC San Diego faced off Saturday night in the CCAA Final.
Not only were the Broncos coming off a four-overtime game the night before, but they had to compete without their starting point guard Jordan Ogundiran, who was out with an injury that he suffered during the end of regulation in Friday’s matchup.
The well-rested Tritons looked to run the ball early as they got four quick points on the board to start the game.
Cal Poly stayed with them as Riley Schaefer dribbled inside and scored over his defender with a left-handed hook shot.
On the defensive end, a steal from Nikhil Peters led to the ball in the hands of William Christmas, who surveyed the floor as he delivered a crisp bounce pass to Chris Sullivan, who scored the bucket and was fouled to earn himself a 3-point play the old-fashioned way.
The Broncos were holding onto a 1-point lead, but a couple of turnovers led to a run for the Tritons as they went up 16-9.
Ramos bullied his way to the basket for an easy two as he tried to cut into the deficit, but the hot shooting from distance for UC San Diego was hurting the Broncos.
The Tritons shot 71 percent from the 3-point range in the first half and extended their lead to 16 with just a little over seven minutes remaining until halftime.
Christmas grabbed the defensive rebound on one end and earned himself another assist on the other end. This time he fed the ball to Mason Dickerson who finished the layup.
The first half came to a close with CPP trailing by 11.
Schaefer looked to bring life back into his team as he came out aggressive in the second half.
He anticipated the pass from the Tritons and reached in to steal the ball which led to a fast break opportunity as he dunked the ball with authority.
The slam by Schaefer got the bench off their feet as they cheered for their team to get back into the game.
The Broncos picked up their intensity on defense once again, which allowed Ramos a transition lay-up to cut the lead to five, forcing UC San Diego to call a timeout.
Sullivan missed the shot but fought to grab his own rebound with three defenders surrounding him and was able to draw the foul and get to the line.
With just 3:56 on the clock, Sullivan went to the line and knocked down the free throws to cut the lead to nine.
Cal Poly kept fighting but was unable to stop the Tritons as they pushed the lead out to 12 with just 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
The tournament started for the Broncos on Tuesday when they hosted Humboldt State in the first round and earned themselves a convincing 85-67 win.
“It was great because the home crowd always brings us a lot of energy,” junior forward Justin Young said. “It’s always great playing in front of friends and family.”
The team then traveled to Hayward, where CPP faced off against the No. 5 seed Cal State L.A. for the semifinals on Friday night.
The 40 minutes of regulation weren’t enough to determine the winner, as the game went into four overtimes and became the longest game in NCAA Division II this season.
It took a team effort to come out on top as five Broncos scored in double figures to pull off the 102-99 win and advance to the championship game.
“We go over a lot of late-game situations in practice,” senior Sullivan said. “We play a lot when we’re tired in practice so it’s a testament to our coach. He prepares us for that and we’ve just gotten comfortable in those situations.”
The Broncos’ 14-game winning streak came to an end with the 71-62 loss, and for the third straight year, UC San Diego earned itself the CCAA tournament title.
Schaefer led the Broncos with 17 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
Christmas, who played a total of 86 minutes in the back-to-back games for the Broncos, was named to the CCAA All-Tournament team.
The Broncos ended their regular season with an overall record of 21-6.
Qualifying as the fifth seed in the NCAA Division II Tournament, the Broncos will have a chance at redemption as they will take on UC San Diego on Friday at Point Loma.
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