CPP men’s basketball clinches playoff berth with 71-68 win over Otters

By Nick Vasquez, Mar. 1, 2022

Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team secured a spot in the CCAA tournament with a 71-68 win over Cal State Monterey Bay on Feb. 24. The win was their fourth straight and their fifth win in their last six games to secure the sixth seed in the conference tournament.

Senior point guard Phoenix Shackelford scored a career high 27 points with 21 of them coming in the second half to lead the Broncos to a 16-point comeback. The win improves the Broncos’ record to 12-8 on the season with an 8-8 record against the CCAA.

Before the game, head coach Greg Kamansky spoke about the resilience of this young team after missing three consecutive games in January because they were not able to field a full team due to COVID-19 cases and injuries. The team currently rosters 10 underclassmen, nine of which are freshman.

“We played well at the beginning of the year, then we had to take a break,” said Kamansky. “We didn’t have a full team practice for 30 days due to NCAA rules. The spectrum varies with such a young team. Trying to get a read on consistency for a number of players has been difficult because of their youth.”

The Broncos fought through adversity throughout this game as well. CSU Monterey Bay was third in the conference going into this game with a 13-6 record overall and a 12-4 record against the CCAA.

Before the game, Shackelford commented on the magnitude of the game and how the team has battled through adversity this season.

“I’m excited; I love big games,” said Shackelford. “I know I just have to control some of that excitement and not get too carried away. We went through our lulls earlier in the year, but we’ve really turned it around and hit our stride at the right time.”

The teams started out neck and neck over the first six minutes of the first half. After being tied 11-11 with 12:57 left, the Otters went on a 22-6 run to give them a 16-point lead with 4:37 left in the half. After a CPP timeout, the Broncos went on a 13-0 run to cut the score to 33-30 with less than two minutes left in the first half. The Otters scored two straight baskets to end the first half, extending their lead to seven.

The second half started with a dunk by CSU Monterey Bay’s Kyle Johnson, which followed with five points by Shackelford to give the Broncos their first lead since the first half. The Broncos went on a 17-2 point run giving them a 49-41 advantage with 10:15 left.

After a CSU Monterey Bay timeout, the Otters went on a 9-0 run to regain the lead with less than nine minutes left. The teams traded buckets for the following two minutes to make the score 56-56 with 5:31 remaining. After a minute and a half of scoreless basketball, the Broncos went on an 8-0 run to take a 64-56 lead and controlled the game from there on.

Despite a rough stretch after three straight no-contest games in early January, the Broncos have hit their stride at the right time. CPP will play CSU Monterey Bay on March 3.

This is the Broncos’ 14th straight playoff berth under Kamansky.

“We had a chance to make the conference tournament the last weekend of the season,” he said. “Looking at where we’ve been the last month or so, we’re really happy to be here.”

Featured image courtesy of CPP Athletics.

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