Men’s basketball won back-to-back games over the weekend in the Cal State San Bernardino Thanksgiving Classic tournament.
The Broncos pushed their overall record to 5-2 and extended their win streak to three games.
The Broncos kicked off the tournament on Friday, as they rolled over the Saint Katherine Firebirds, 98-50.
“We came out a little slow, but that’s expected after the holidays. But our guys kept to the task and grinded this team down,” head coach Greg Kamansky said. “The other team had been playing pretty well this week so we were a little worried, but once we opened up in the first half, the first five minutes of the second half we felt pretty confident.”
The Broncos had a season-high shooting from the field as the team shot 61.5%. Senior guard/forward Riley Schaefer led the Broncos in scoring with 21 points along with four rebounds, two blocks and one assist.
Aside from Schaefer, the Broncos had two more players with double figures in scoring, as senior guard William Christmas contributed with 19 points, followed by junior guard Phoenix Shackelford, who chipped in with 11 points.
“It was a really good team win. Everyone played well from top to bottom,” Schaefer said. “I thought (the key for tonight’s dominant win) was just giving the ball inside, and work inside out. Our shooters hit shots and we got a lot of stops and overall we just kept playing defense.”
Early in the first half, Christmas and Shackelford got things going for the Broncos with back-to-back baskets. Despite the hot start, the Firebirds responded with multiple baskets that kept the game close for the first couple minutes.
Seven minutes into the game, Christmas’ dominance was evident as the senior drove into the paint to score a basket to keep the Broncos ahead on the scoreboard.
“We just had to rebound the ball better and play better defense,” Christmas said. “I thought we struggled for a little bit early in the first half, but we picked up the defensive intensity later in the first half and in the second half, and we were able to pull away with the win.”
In the middle of the first half, as the game was tied, Shackelford hit a 3-pointer that triggered an 8-0 run for the Broncos that gave them their largest lead of the game up to that point.
With five minutes left in the first half, the Broncos’ strong defense would pay dividends, as it only allowed the Firebirds to score eight points.
The Broncos continued with the hot hand in the final six minutes, scoring 21 points during that span that saw them take a 46-25 lead going into halftime.
To start the second half, the Firebirds quickly tried to minimize the deficit after knocking down four free throws. Despite the fast start from the Firebirds, the Broncos responded right away with back-to-back baskets from Schaefer.
With 15 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock, junior guard BJ Standley drove into the paint for a basket that would initiate an 18-5 run, which led the Broncos to extend their lead by 30 points.
During the final 10 minutes of the game, the Firebirds continued with their offensive struggles and were only able to score 11 points. On the other hand, the Broncos scored 26 points.
The Broncos, during that span, were also able to have their largest lead of the game, as they led the Firebirds by 48 points at the end of the second half.
“I thought going inside helped us a lot tonight. We were good; we did not shoot very well early in the first half, but our press helped us to get the other team to turn it over 16 times in the first half,” Kamansky said. “And that leads to layups, so it makes it easy.”
The following day, the Broncos took down the Texas A&M International Dustdevils 75-45. Christmas led the Broncos in scoring with 17 points and was one of four Broncos with double figures in scoring.
The defense was outstanding once again as it forced the Dustdevils to commit 26 turnovers.
The Broncos will return to Kellogg Arena at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 to take on Humboldt State.