Senior All-Region guard Austin Swift scored a game-high 18 points with six assists and fellow senior and All-CCAA point guard Dahir Nasser added 10 points as Cal Poly Pomona led throughout its NCAA West Regional first-round game against Dixie State College for a 71-62 victory on Friday night at Western Washington University.
The victory pushes the Broncos, now 23-6, into Saturday night’s semifinal where it will face top-seed and host Western Washington. The host Vikings defeated Central Washington 84-70 in a game WWU attempted 44 free throws.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and all action can be found at www.wwuvikings.com.
Sixth-seed Brigham Young Hawaii and second-seed Cal State San Bernardino will meet in the day’s first semifinal game at 5 p.m.
Sophomore Mitchel Anderson continued his fine play in the second half of the season. The Temecula native poured in 11 points – all off the bench – for his ninth double-figure scoring effort in the last 12 games.
Coach Greg Kamansky received stellar efforts from his two seniors, who each played instrumental roles on last year’s NCAA finalist team that incidentally began its Elite Eight run at WWU. Swift finished 6-of-9 from the floor and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Swift’s scoring prowess and Broncos success go hand-in-hand as the Broncos improved to 32-8 all-time when the Santa Cruz native scores double digits.
“We held our composure tonight and got the job done,” Kamansky said. “Austin played at an elite level tonight and our experience guys stepped it up at different times. Matthew Rosser had a solid all-round game. We passed the ball well and shot above 50 percent. It’s a good win and we move on against a team that’s the top seed and playing well at home.”
Cal Poly Pomona shot 54.2 percent from the floor in the second half on 13-of-24 shooting to pull away from the Red Storm (20-6), who were making their first NCAA appearance in school history. The Broncos finished the night hitting 26-of-51 for 51 percent and increased their record to 99-9 when they shoot at least 50 percent FGs during Kamansky’s 10-year reign.
Leading 40-36 with 12:32 left in the game, Cal Poly Pomona earned some much-needed breathing room with an 11-2 run that gave the Broncos their largest lead of the game at 51-38 with 7:45 remaining.
Swift sandwiched a pair of baskets around Anderson’s 3-pointer and the Broncos led 47-36 with 8:58 left.
After Jeremiah Barnes’ free throws, Anderson added another basket and Rosser finished the run with a jumper, giving the Broncos the 13-point cushion.
Donavan Plunkett led the Red Storm with 16 points and Tom Whitehead added 13 by hitting all six of his free-throw attempts. DSC kept in the game by hitting 24-of-27 from the line (88.9 percent) — a season-best for an opponent against Cal Poly Pomona.
Rosser had a fine all-round game as well with seven points, five rebounds and five assists.
The fourth-seeded Broncos will have their hands full against the Vikings (26-5 overall), who are 15-1 at home this season and ranked 15th in the country. They are led by All-Region guard Morris Anderson
“It’s going to be a great college atmosphere tomorrow night against a quality program,” Kamansky said. “Anderson’s one of the top players in the country and he’s got a solid supporting cast. We’re going to have to play much better.”
Earlier Friday, sixth-seed BYU Hawaii upset No. 3 Seattle Pacific 76-72 and No. 2 CSU San Bernardino upended fellow CCAA member, No. 7 Humboldt State 75-66.
(Photo: Dahir Nasser plays against Chico State in the CCAA Tournament semifinals game on March 5, 2010.)