Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s basketball season tipped off this weekend at the CCAA/PacWest/GNAC Challenge, looking to change its trajectory this year after finishing eighth in the conference last year with a record of 12-14.
The Broncos traveled to Chico, California, this past weekend to open the season against Seattle Pacific University.
Guard Jaden Winfield got the Broncos’ night started with an early midrange bucket, marking the first of many for the Broncos.
Both teams traded baskets for the first few minutes of the game with one being a sweet 3-point bomb by forward Brandon Porter, which was set up after a Winfield steal.
The tables turned at the 11:31 mark of the game as Seattle Pacific orchestrated a 12-point run making it 25-13 with 7:34 left to go before the end of the half. Forward Caleb Nelson finally broke the run with a driving layup on the other side of the court to give CPP a chance to flip the script.
The biggest factor in the first half was the difference in 3-point shooting. The Broncos shot a horrific 1-12 from beyond the arc as the Falcons’ perimeter defense shut down CPP.
“We needed to get more 3-point shots in rhythm,” said guard Bam Johnson. “A lot of 3s came at the end of the shot clock.”
The Broncos ended the half down 28-17.
With concerns in their long-range shooting, driving the paint would be the focal point in the second half.
“We were dysfunctional in that first half and really all game,” said head coach Greg Kamansky. “Our spacing was off as well as our timing. I wanted our guys to own the paint more.”
Johnson got the second half rolling with an early steal and finger roll to end the fastbreak. With 9:50 left to play, Porter picked the pocket of the opposing forward with a clear lane ahead of him before taking off with a one hand slam, cutting the lead 41-37.
The Broncos finally gained momentum after their slow start as they began to push the ball in the paint, outgaining the Falcons 20-6 in this part of the court.
This offensive efficiency and 18 points from the bench led the way toward a comeback as CPP narrowed Seattle Pacific’s lead down to just one point with 2:21 left to play.
After a hard-fought half climbing back into the game, the Broncos fizzled as they lost 56-50 in the first game of the season.
The Broncos sprung back into action the following day against Azusa Pacific University.
The action started with a sky-high floater from Johnson followed by a close midrange jumper to give CPP a quick five points early in the match.
The scoring did not stop there as Porter came to play and made his first three shots of the game.
The Broncos still ended up trailing early and often in this game as Azusa Pacific started 42% from the field and 71% from the free throw line.
Turnovers were the key issue in the first half for CPP, as they racked up six early.
Johnson came back around the 10:06 mark with a smooth layup. His hustle and efficiency was one of the highlights of the weekend.
“I’m hoping to be one of the guys to feed the energy to the rest of the team,” Johnson said. “Being more of a leader is a goal of mine, and I just want to go out there and be the best that I can be.”
Porter followed moments later with a deep 3-point shot.
Despite Porter being in early foul trouble, he made his presence felt all game. At the 4:51 mark, he obtained his second steal and finished on the other end with an easy one-handed dunk, cutting the lead to 25-23.
The Broncos went into halftime down 34-26, with hopes they could spark up a comeback. Porter ended the half with 11 points, two steals, two rebounds and three fouls.
In the second half, the Broncos shot much more efficiently from the free throw line, hitting 12 of 17 in comparison to the first half’s five of 12.
Johnson continued to have a solid night on both sides of the ball. At the 11:10 mark of the second half, he displayed smooth ball handling with a quick crossover to his left, blowing past his defender, hitting a layup and getting the foul call to make it a 47-40 game.
For the final seven minutes of the game, the Broncos struggled to keep up with the Cougars, eventually finding themselves down by 15 points.
Porter continued his monster outing scoring his 22nd point of the night off a nice Euro step.
His big night was not enough for the Broncos as they eventually lost 67-57, going 0-2 in this opening weekend.
After a third loss at Biola University Nov. 18, CPP looks to bounce back against Concordia University Irvine Nov. 25.