Playing hard from start to finish, Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball won praise from its fans and the Erie community. In the end though, top-ranked Bentley stayed undefeated with a 77-62 victory to end the Broncos’ season in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II Tournament on Wednesday.
The CPP season ends at 26-7 overall as the Broncos missed the opportunity to make the program’s ninth appearance in the championship game. Through March, the CPP student-athletes brought their fun style of play into the national spotlight and made the university community proud.
Bentley improves to 34-0 on the season, advancing to play West Texas A&M for the NCAA Division II National Championship on Friday at Erie Insurance Arena. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Eastern) and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network and NCAA.com.
CPP shot just 34.9 percent from the field Wednesday and posted an 11-for-16 effort at the free throw line. The Falcons also outrebounded the Broncos, 41-36. The game was a lot closer than the final 15-point finish indicated though as Bentley held a slim one-possession lead midway through the second half. Two Falcon players finished with double-double performances, including a 25-point and 10-rebound effort from Lauren Battista.
All-American Jada Blackwell finished with a team-high 22 points, playing 28 minutes before fouling out. Through this year’s NCAA postseason, Blackwell totaled 135 points, leaving her just 15 shy of breaking the all-time Division II record for tournament scoring. Blackwell racked up 620 points in the 2013-14 campaign, putting her at fifth in Broncos’ history on the single-season leaderboard.
Wednesday’s Final Four matchup proved to be the final game as a Bronco for senior guard J.J. Judge. She totaled 10 points, including two of the team’s seven three-pointers. Judge concluded her CPP career with 149 threes, placing her at No. 2 in the CPP record book for that statistic.
Academic All-American Ariel Marsh joined Blackwell and Judge in double figures Wednesday, collecting 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting. The Chino Hills native knocked down her 80th triple of the year against Bentley, moving her into second on the Broncos’ single-season list.
With Wednesday’s result, CPP is now 55-19 all-time at the NCAA postseason. The 55 wins are the third-highest total in Division II tournament history as the Broncos only trail Bentley’s 58 victories and Delta State’s 57. Through school history, CPP has collected 899 victories.