The Cal State Monterey Bay men’s basketball team delivered its first blow Tuesday when it throttled No. 2 Cal State Dominguez Hills. It turned in another stunner on Friday, upstaging top-seeded Cal Poly Pomona 54-49 in overtime in a CCAA Tournament semifinal at Coussoulis Arena.
The Otters (16-13), the eighth seed, were playing for their lives
with the tournament bid the only chance they had of making the West Region Tournament. The Broncos (20-7), who came in riding an 11-game winning streak, have already secured a spot in that event but were playing for the right to possibly host a sub-regional.
“Their season was on the line and they were playing like it,”
Broncos senior Larry Gordon said. “We knew they were going to come in and play hard and we really didn’t step up and answer. ”
The game was not a particularly well-played one on either side. The Otters shot just 33.9 percent (19-for-56) including a woeful 16.7 percent (3for-16) from long distance. Meanwhile the Broncos shot a slightly worse 33.3 (15-for-45) with 18 turnovers.
How bad was it? Well the Broncos went the first 11 minutes of the second half without a field goal, a driving layup by Dahir Nasser breaking that drought. But it wasn’t like the Otters played well enough to capitalize as they only led 29-28 despite after that play.
“We were fortunate to be as close as we were,” Broncos coach Greg Kamansky said. “It was more about bad offense but they did play good defense and just got after us and we didn’t respond.”
The second half was tight all the way with neither team managing more than a four-point lead. It was tied at 38 with 2:08 to go but Gordon knocked down two free throws to give the Broncos back the lead, 40-38.
The Otters had three shots on their next possession before the
Broncos Dwayne Fells came up with the defensive rebound. They failed to convert as Gordon misfired and the Otters Steve Monreal grabbed the rebound with 50 seconds left.
The upstarts converted as Monreal drove the baseline and sunk a shot to even it again at 40-all. It stayed that way as Nasser missed a 3-pointer to leave the game tied after regulation.
The Otters led the extra period all the way with two free throws
by Monreal, making it 50-46 with 19 seconds to go. The Broncos
Walter Thompson buried a 3-pointer at the other end with 13 seconds to go, bringing the Broncos back within one point but that was as close as the Broncos would get.
“We were dysfunctional on offense,” Kamansky said. “We seemed a little too tight and then we were hanging our heads. We got what we deserved.”
Gordon led the Broncos with 17 points, highlighted by his 1,400th career field goal which came on a driving base line move with 6:59 left in the game. He also had six rebounds and a career-high seven steals which also stands as a best by any player in the conference this season.
Monreal led the Otters, who will be making their first appearance
in a conference tournament final, with 18 points. Joe Mitchell
snagged 14 rebounds.