Men’s basketball sky for boards and blocks, soar past Eagles for second straight win

By Caleb Nguyen, Nov. 22, 2022

On Nov. 18, Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s basketball team hosted the Biola Eagles in their home opener, gritting out a tough victory by a score of 63-59 and improving to a 2-1 record on the young season.

In a rock fight of a game where both teams shot under 45% from the field, the younger, smaller and deep Bronco roster attacked the paint, crashed the boards and utilized their zone defense to come away with the win against their taller foe.

Head coach Greg Kamansky was pleased with the contributions on the interior from the whole team in a victory for the home team.

Joseph McVey | The Poly Post

“We knew they were big and strong, like to pound it inside a with some shooters surrounding those guys,” said Kamansky. “I told them it was a battle of wills, just a little bit better tonight, and they’re a good team. They’re gonna win a lot of games. They’re well-coached, so it was a great win for our young players.”

Bench scoring was the key for CPP with guard Shyheim Parm leading the Broncos with 18 points and two steals after an injury scare earlier in the game. Forward Derrick Claxton scored 14 points of his own and contributed on the boards with five rebounds, combining with Parm to score half of the Broncos’ 63 on the night.

Parm, who also hit the game-sealing free throws, spoke about the preparation for clutch time in this week’s practice.

“We started going over that stuff this past week, so I got to give that to Coach getting us ready and keeping up composed,” said Parm.

Forward Caleb Nelson rebounded the first Biola miss of the night, leading to the first score from guard Bam Johnson. Johnson hung in the air, took the contact from the defender and got his layup to drop to give CPP the early 2-0 lead 40 seconds in.

The offensive struggle for both teams set in after the initial bucket from Johnson. Nearly five minutes of game time passed before another field goal from either team. Guard Chris Gayles Jr. scored a layup, followed by a steal and three-pointer by Parm to push the Broncos’ lead to 7-3, seven minutes into the first half.

After another paint bucket for Johnson, Biola got a second-chance opportunity off a missed three. With 12:18 left in the first half, guard Jaden Winfield skied to the rim and stuffed Biola’s layup attempt, much to the delight of the Bronco home crowd.

Parm scored on the next possession, then hit another three and grabbed his second steal to lead a fastbreak chance. After dishing it off to forward Malachi Murrell for an and-one opportunity, the Bronco lead grew to 11 with under 11 to go in the first half, prompting a timeout and energizing Kellogg Arena.

Biola scored the next six points, cutting CPP’s lead to five with under nine minutes to play in the half. Just as the Eagles hoped to come back into the game, Nelson boarded a missed jumper on the third chance of a Bronco possession and slammed home a thunderous putback to keep the Broncos in control.

Claxton made his impact known in the next few minutes, grabbing a steal, an offensive board and two threes, the latter off an ankle breaker and assist from Murrell, to push the Bronco lead back to double digits with under five minutes to play in the half.

CPP’s lead grew to 12 with under two minutes to play thanks to layups from forward Mayowa Akinsanya, Parm and Johnson, but Biola clawed back into the matter. The visiting Eagles scored the final six points of the period, cutting the Bronco advantage at halftime, 32-26.

The second half opened with another jumper from Winfield that pushed CPP’s lead back to eight. On the next Biola possession, Nelson stood his ground once more, protecting the paint with another Bronco block.

Nelson, who registered nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks, spoke about being a veteran leader, showing all around skills playing tall against a bigger opponent.

“We all didn’t shoot the way we wanted to, including me, but there’s always something you can do without making a shot,” said Nelson. “Getting rebounds, playing good defense, doing something to make the team better.”

Nelson continued: “We didn’t give in when they made a run the second half, and we heard what our coaches said in the locker room. The first five, 10 minutes of the second half is going to be most important, and I think we held our own even though they had some runs. We were able to keep it up and get the win.”

Eagle forward Maximo Milovich capped off one of those aforementioned runs for Biola with a layup to seal a 13-4 period for the visitors and give them their first lead 39-38.

Nelson hit a three to take the lead back for the home team followed by a jumper and steal by Murrell, prompting a Biola shooting foul. Claxton split the pair at the line to give the Broncos a five-point cushion again with just over 10 minutes left in the game.

Biola guard Daniel Esparza got hot in the next few minutes, sinking two shots and cutting the Broncos advantage to just two with over nine minutes to play. After both teams exchanged buckets, Parm hit another jumper for the Broncos to extend the Bronco lead back to eight with three minutes left in the game.

Biola had one final push left in them with a layup by forward Hunter Ruck and two threes by guard Nathan Medina, knotting the game up at 57 with 1:21 to play, causing Kamansky and company to call timeout.

In crunch time, Kamansky called Parm’s number and the freshman guard responded with a pivotal go-ahead jumper with 1:12 left on the clock. After another empty Eagle trip down the floor, Nelson corralled the crucial rebound and passed to Parm who was fouled.

Parm took deep breaths and calmly sank both free throws to put the Broncos up four with under 30 seconds to play. Esparza missed a three, but Ruck rebounded a missed free throw from Parm with 10 seconds to go. Esparza rose up for three on the next possession and was fouled in the act of shooting, raising the crowd’s blood pressure.

Esparza missed his first of three free throws, but made the next two, cutting the Bronco lead to two again. With the score at 61-59, Parm once again stepped up to the free throw line with some big points awaiting if he could convert.

Parm was not denied this time, capping off a 4/5 run at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds of regulation. With just two seconds remaining and now a two-possession game, Biola chucked up a last ditch shot attempt in vain, missing everything and sealing the game for the Broncos, 63-59.

Coach Kamansky reiterated the encouragement in his young roster for these key victories early on in the season, hoping to propel them in what will be a learning experience for both parties.

“You know I always tell these guys, we’re building our culture of the program right now,” said Kamansky. “And every year’s different. There’s a lot of new guys coming in and returners. We lost a lot of guys from last year. So, now it’s like this is their team, what kind of identity do we have? ‘So far, so good,’ I thought.”

CPP moved to 2-1 with this win and will take on the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters on the road for their next game on Dec. 1. You can stream the event on the California Collegiate Athletic Association Network and keep up with the team on the BroncoAthletics website all season long.

Feature image by Joseph McVey

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