The dream season for Cal Poly Pomona men's basketball continues! After a victory over seventh-seeded Seattle Pacific on Saturday, the Broncos will advance to the Sweet 16, facing top-seed Brigham Young-Hawaii on Wednesday night.
Defense and rebounding have been ever-present for coach Greg Kamansky's team, but the Broncos' 77.3-percent shooting from the floor in the second half gave them the edge with an 80-72 victory over the Falcons in an NCAA West Region semifinal played at Sam Carver Gymnasium at Western Washington University.
The third-seeded Broncos, now 22-7 overall and winners of 13 of their last 14, advance to the NCAA West Region final and play the nation's third-ranked team, Brigham Young-Hawaii in Laie, Hawaii, on Wednesday beginning at 10:30 p.m. (Pacific time). The Seasiders, 27-1 overall and winners of 24 straight, defeated fourth-seed Cal State Dominguez Hills 84-71 on Saturday night.
Senior Larry Gordon again tied his career-high with 28 points for the second successive night and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season and 33rd of his career.
Gordon finished 11-of-12 from the floor and hit both of his 3-pointers. But it wasn't just Gordon on this night. Senior reserve guard Walter Thompson was 5-of-5 from the floor with 18 points. Sophomore Tobias Jahn scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
All told, the trio combined for 23-of-26 shot attempts from the floor — an 88.5 percent effort.
“Offensively, we played real well in these last two games,” Kamansky said. “I thought we were pretty fluid. Larry has the ability to score from outside and that opens things up for other to take advantage inside.”
“We feel pretty confident with Larry's all-around game,” Kamansky said. “Toby's done a nice job for us in the low post and Austin can score as well. Tonight, Walter really stepped it up.”
The Broncos, who led 32-28 at halftime, hit seven of their first eight shots from the floor and led 47-36 with 13:52 remaining in the game.
After freshman Dwayne Fells hit a jump shot in the paint, giving the Broncos a 52-43 lead with 10:37 left, the Falcons Jeff Downs caught fire. The 6-foot-4 sophomore struck with two straight 3-pointers and a field goal just inside the 3-point line for his own 8-0 run, bringing his team to within two — 53-51 — with 8:16 to go.
Each team traded layups — one from Jahn and the other from Seattle Pacific's Jake Anderson — in the minute before CPP got back in control.
After a media timeout with 7:04 left, CPP struck back. Jahn added a free throw and Gordon took over with a 3-pointer and a layup. Thompson added a 3-pointer from the right wing and the Broncos returned to a double-digit lead at 64-53 with 5:31 left.
Thompson later added another 3-pointer two minutes later, and CPP had its largest lead of the game at 69-57 with 3:14 left.
CPP led by 11 as late as 1:27 left (74-63), but struggled at the free-throw line late. The Broncos hit just two of six free throws in the final minute, but built the lead large enough to win, 80-72.
“Going inside is our option,” Kamansky said. “If we were going to go down, I wanted us to do what we've done so well this season.”
Brandon Larrieu led the Falcons with 22 points, and Rob Dietrichs and Downs each had 13. Seattle Pacific outscored Cal Poly Pomona from the 3-point line 33-12 but never regained the lead after the 8:43 mark in the first half.