A complete team effort saw Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s basketball team take down the Stanislaus State Warriors 73-64 Thursday, Jan. 18, marking the Broncos’ first road win since their conference opener against Cal Poly Humboldt back in November.
While the match remained tight through the first half, a solid offensive showing and an extended defensive lockdown midway through the second half allowed CPP to take the win and improve to 3-7 in conference play thus far this season.
Broncos head coach Greg Kamansky expressed his satisfaction after the win as the Broncos look to turn around from a slow start to the season and extended struggles with injuries.
“We only had nine players tonight, so the guys really came together and played well as a team,” Kamansky said. “For the first time in a long time I felt like everyone contributed to the win, so that was what I was happiest about.”
Heading into the match, the Broncos and Warriors were both in the midst of offensive efficiency struggles, with CPP averaging 56 points per game and just 21% shooting from beyond the arc in conference play. Early on, the Broncos looked set for one of their best offensive performances of the season.
While the Warriors won the tip off and quickly capitalized with a driving layup, Bronco guard Chris Gayles Jr. clapped back with a clean 3-pointer. Gayles’ bucket proved to be the first of many as CPP went on to sink five of eight 3-point attempts in the half.
The teams continued to trade points for the opening minutes of the match until the Warriors finally broke through a two-minute stalemate with back-to-back 3-pointers to take a 17-10 lead with 12 minutes left to play.
Stanislaus’ lead did not last long, as CPP capitalized off a Warrior foul and sank three consecutive 3s to tie the game up.
After a slow few minutes left CPP up by two with three seconds left to play, Stanislaus looked destined to tie the match as Warrior forward Daniel Ameyaw earned two free throw attempts. Fortunately for the Broncos, Ameyaw narrowly missed both free throws to grant CPP a narrow 35-33 lead as the half came to a close.
At the onset of the second half, the Warriors came out swinging as they greatly increased their aggression against CPP’s zone defense to tie the game at 39 after three minutes of play. CPP struggled to slow Stanislaus’ offense as the Warriors capitalized off Bronco turnovers and misses to slowly build a 50-44 lead with 14 minutes and 20 seconds left to play.
This point, proved to be the turning point in the match as CPP locked down the court and dug in for one of the team’s most impressive defensive runs of the season. Over the next 10 minutes, the Broncos slowly regained their offensive confidence while holding Stanislaus to just a single jumper to flip a six-point deficit into a seven-point lead with five minutes left to play.
“They really dug in on defense and rebounded well for a long stretch there, so they struggled hitting from the floor against us,” Kamansky said. “Then we got our offense back on track again and played defense and rebounded. We held them to one shot for that long stretch, and that’s something we haven’t done all year.”
While Stanislaus attempted to revive their chances late by trying to trap CPP in the backcourt whenever the Broncos inbounded the ball, their efforts were in vain as Bronco guard Bam Johnson sealed the deal with a driving layup and good free throw following a Warrior foul to give CPP a commanding 70-58 lead with one minute and 23 seconds left to play.
After trading points for the closing minute, CPP ended the match with a 73-64 victory.
Johnson led CPP’s offense, scoring 16 points and notching two assists in the victory. This win, however, Johnson credits to the team’s growing experience and chemistry.
“I feel like as a team we’re bonding together more, even though it’s a little later in the season,” Johnson said. “We’re all getting on the same page now, and everyone’s having the same mindset to go out, give our max effort, play hard and play as a team.”
That sentiment was echoed by Bronco guard Malachi Murrell, who came off the bench to assist in CPP’s extended defensive lockdown in the second half.
“We’re starting to learn to trust and lean on each other,” Murrell said. “Starting off the year, we were having a bit of trouble in practices getting back into everything, but we’re really starting to trust each other and give everything we got.”
Apart from Johnson, Porter proved to be a powerhouse on both ends of the court, racking up 14 points and 8 rebounds. Malcolm Bell also played a big role in cleaning up the game in the second half, coming off the bench to record 10 points and 4 rebounds in just 14 minutes of play.Just two days later, CPP traveled to Seaside to take on Cal State Monterey Bay where the team bested the Otters 74-64 to improve to 4-7 in conference play. The victory, spearheaded by a 21-point showing from Porter, marks CPP’s first back-to-back wins of the regular season as the team looks to turn a new leaf part way through the season.
The Broncos’ biggest challenge yet, will come Thursday, Jan. 25 when they’ll face the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros followed just two days later by the Cal State LA Golden Eagles, the two teams tied for first in the conference.