The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team opened conference play this season with a 76-67 victory over Cal State Monterey Bay. The Broncos improved to 4-1 on the season with a 1-0 record within their conference.
Sophomore Chris Gayles Jr. paced the Broncos in scoring with 17 points, followed by sophomore Christopher Mitchell with 13 points. The Broncos’ defense held their own in the game by holding the Otters to 67 points, well under their previous average of 77.2 points per game.
Head coach Greg Kamansky commented on the team’s strong start to the season.
“We are a young team, and we’re still a work in progress right now,” said Kamansky. “We’re ahead of schedule of where I thought we’d be right now. We just need to improve every game and not have lapses because eventually they’ll catch up to us.”
The first half started with a technical foul on Monterey Bay followed by a three-pointer by Shyheim Parm and a mid-range jumper from Jaden Winfield to give the Broncos an 8-3 lead.
The Otters responded with a 16-0 run of their own to give themselves a 19-8 lead with 11:39 remaining in the first half. The Broncos battled back with stern defense and transition baskets, as they ended the half with a 22-9 run to take the lead going into halftime, despite trailing for most of the first half.
The end of the first half run was catalyzed by a Bam Johnson layup and a pair of layups from Winfield, who ended the game with 11 points. Mitchell followed up with two straight jumpers to cut the lead to two with just over six minutes remaining in the half. The Broncos ended the first half with a 30-26 lead.
Defense was the story of the first half, as the Broncos scored 30 points on 40.6% from the field and the Otters scored 26 points on 32.3% from the field. Both Winfield and Mitchell had nine points each at halftime to lead the Broncos.
Kamansky explained how he was not pleased with the team’s defense, even though they held Monterey Bay to their season low in points.
“I didn’t think the defense was particularly good, especially early,” said Kamansky. “We were scrambling early, but we started to get more physical with them after the first 10 minutes.”
The offenses for both teams came alive in the second half, as the Broncos wound up shooting 57.1% from the field, and the Otters shot 51.9%. The Broncos made seven 3-pointers in the second half, a big reason why they took control of the game.
Gayles Jr. talked about why the offense got off to a slow start and how they improved as the game went on.
“In the first half we were isolating too much and not moving the ball enough,” said Gayles Jr. “Once we started passing more, we started moving off ball and set screens, and we started to get more open looks.”
The Broncos held the lead for the rest of the game after taking the lead late in the first half. CPP came out on fire in the second half, starting the half with a 17-8 run to expand the lead to 13.
The Otters cut the lead to five with 12:43 remaining, but the Broncos responded with a 9-2 run over the ensuing three minutes to take control of the game.
The Broncos came out hot later in the second half, as they hit five threes in the first nine minutes to jolt them to a 56-46 lead. After a 3-pointer from Jordan Carpenter to put the Broncos up 64-54 with just over seven minutes left, Monterey Bay went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to four before coach Kamansky called a timeout.
The Broncos responded with a 12-6 run to close out the game and seal the victory.
CPP carried the momentum built last season into this season with a 4-1 start, and Mitchell commented on the team’s outlook for the rest of the year and how they stack up to last year’s team.
“I see a lot of potential in this team,” said Mitchell. “We have a lot more shooting and more versatility on defense this year. We have a lot of guys that can move and play each position. I would say that this team is really deep as well. I’m excited for what we can do this year.”
The Broncos’ next game will be at home against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. All games are available to stream on the CCAA website.