Broncos lose title tilt in overtime

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team came close but that has to be little consolation now.

The unranked Broncos fell to No. 1 Findlay 56-53 in overtime in the Division II National championship game today at the MassMutual center in Springfield, Mass. The difference was a 3-pointer from the wing by Tyler Evans as time ran out. He was well defended but made a great shot so give him credit.

Coach Greg Kamansky’s team played with the poise and dignity it played with all season on the biggest stage possible. They were down and didn’t panic. They weren’t intimidated by a team with a lofty reputation and national ranking.

Few could have expected the Broncos to get that far. They probably didn’t expect it themselves. That is until they started string some wins together at the end of the regular season. Then they started to believe and the confidence grew with every game.

You don’t get that close that often so it hurts to lose even if you weren’t expected to be there, But the Broncos walked off the court with heads held high, as well they should have.

That closes the book on the storied career of Larry Gordon, one of four seniors on the team and one of only two that saw significant playing time. While it is never easy to replace an All-American, the Broncos will have something they didn’t have this season – a strong nucleus of returning players.

Austin Swift, Dwayne Fells, Robert Summers, Daher Nasser and the much-improved Tobias Jahn. They’ll also get back Donnelle Booker, who was out all season with a knee injury. There are plenty of pieces in place to make another run. The experience those players gained is something to build on.

Broncos lose heart-breaker in overtime

By Jeff Thomas

 

Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Oh, for a few more seconds on the clock.
The remarkable run of the Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team came to a sudden and shocking end Saturday afternoon at the MassMutual Center when senior guard Tyler Evans drained a fadeaway 3-pointer at buzzer in overtime to give the University of Findlay the NCAA Division II national championship.

Cal Poly Pomona fought back from a 14-point second-half deficit, only to go down 56-53 to Oilers, who concluded a perfect season at 36-0 and was ranked No. 1 wire-to-wire.

“We put ourselves in position to win the game, but tonight we didn’t do it and they did,” Cal Poly Pomona coach Greg Kamansky said. “We feel proud of the fact that we put ourselves in position and could have won it.”

The Broncos (25-8), who won 16 of their last 17 to get to this point and had traveled more than 10,000 miles in the NCAA tournament – with another 3,000 or so more to come Sunday – were the feel-good story of the tournament.

That storybook ending almost came to fruition, but a well-guarded Evans picked that point in time to make his only field goal of the afternoon.

“I think it was good defense but he hit a tough shot,” Broncos senior guard Walter Thompson said. “You can’t ask for any better defense out of Dahir (Nasser). It was good pressure and he had his hand in his face. He made a tough shot.”

The game was tied at 53-53 after senior All-American Larry Gordon hit a 15-foot jumper with 12.5 seconds left. There was a held-ball call under Cal Poly’s basket with 2.4 seconds left. Findlay’s Marcus Parker inbounded the ball from the baseline to Evans, who was already a step behind the 3-point arc.

Evans took a dribble back and to his left before taking the shot that swished through the basket 25 feet away and left Nasser on his knees and holding his head in disbelief.

“We were concerned with the inbounder getting the ball back for a quick three, so they got the ball to (Evans) and he kept backing up and backing up and throws a fadeaway three from God knows how many feet,” Kamansky said. “The guy hit a great shot, give him some credit. That’s part of the game of basketball. Win some, lose some.”

It was the second overtime win of the Elite Eight for Findlay, and just the fourth overtime championship game in Elite Eight history.

“I can’t express the feeling that we have winning this game the way it was won with that unbelievable last-second shot, the way we’ve won the last four of our games,” Findlay coach Ron Niekamp said. “It’s an incredible feeling and it’s also a feeling that someone up there is looking out for you when you win four like that.”

The game had the look of a rout for a while, the Oilers taking a 30-20 halftime lead and pushing that lead to as many as 14 with 16:25 left in the game.

“At that time I called timeout and was pretty fired up and said you’re not going down like this,” Kamansky said. “I just told our guys we’ve done it all year and this is not the way we were gonna go down, getting beat handily.

“We got a couple of nice plays and hit a couple of nice shots and next thing you know we got our confidence going and we knew we could play with these guys,” he added.

Gordon, who scored a game-high 17 points, scored on a reverse layup, followed by a Robert Summers 3-pointer. Tobias Jahn (14 points) scored at the rim and Summers made two foul shots. After Gordon scored on a drive to the basket, Jahn scored from the baseline to complete the 13-0 run and get the Broncos within one, 36-35.

After Bostic scored on a putback, Thompson hit a 3-pointer and the game was tied with 7:05 to play.

Both teams had opportunities to win in the closing minutes but neither could capitalize.
In overtime it was much of the same, the lead changing five times before Evans hit his heroic shot to end an incredible season for the Broncos.

“This will sting for a while but we’ll look back in a little bit and say what a great season this was for this team,” Kamansky said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys. Digging in game after game after game. We’ve won a lot of these overtime games.

“This season I’ll take and there’s probably 300 coaches in Division II who would take this,” he added. “There’s only one coach that wouldn’t and that’s the coach of Findlay.”

Broncos Colson honored

Sophomore Reyana Colson capped her second season at Cal Poly Pomona in style when she was named an Honorable Mention All-American, according to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Colson, a Compton native, was the leading scorer for the Broncos this past season with 16.8 points per game. She scored in double figures in each of her 25 games played for the Broncos, who finished 16-14 overall.

“This is a great honor for her and shows how far she has come in a short time,” Broncos coach Scott Davis said. “She’s the key to our success. It says a lot for her work ethic and means a great deal to our program. Reyana is the one that everyone has a game-plan for her. Teams plan around her ability.”

Colson finished second in scoring 16.8 points (overall games), sixth in rebounds, second in assists and tied for first in steals and a league-leading 17.1 points in only CCAA games. She had 9 double-doubles including a conference-best 11 assists in a game played at Humboldt State.

Colson was named to the WBCA State Farm Region 8 first team, Daktronics West Region first team and was a first-team All-CCAA selection. As a freshman, she was the conference’s Freshman of the Year and also a second-team selection.

Off the court, she was named to the 2009 CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District 8 first team.

Redlands softball team shuts down Sagehens

After three straight losses to regional foes, the University of Redlands softball team bounced back with a doubleheader sweep against the visiting Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action on Saturday.  The Bulldogs relied on solid pitching and late-game rallies to take down the Sagehens by scores of 6-0 and 8-0, respectively.

 

In the opener, the Bulldogs gave up a run in the top of the fourth inning on an errant throw to home with the bases loaded.  Redlands quickly made up for it with two quick outs to end the inning, as the defense tagged out a runner in a pickle play and then junior catcher Nicky Neumann (Fremont, CA) picked off another at third.

 

The Maroon and Gray then equalized the score with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning.  Freshman third baseman Lindsay Henry (Lake Elsinore, CA) led off with a single down the right field line and then scored on a single by junior designated player Amanda Doeppel (Monrovia, CA).

 

Tied at one apiece, Redlands broke it open in the sixth inning with a five-run explosion.  Doeppel led off with a double to right center.  With freshman Molly Duran (Corona, CA) pinch running, freshman right fielder Jen Boschken (Davis, CA) connected on a single down the right field line to score Duran.  The team then strung together four hits and took advantage of aggressive base-running with steals, wild pitches, and passed balls, to score four more runs.  Freshman short stop Kai Masutani (Honolulu, HI), junior center fielder Kayla Peterson (San Jose, CA), sophomore first baseman Lizett Casillas (Pomona, CA), and senior second baseman Dory Baga (Aiea, HI) each recorded RBI-singles for the Bulldogs.

 

Junior pitcher Olivia Ellis (Colfax, CA) scattered three hits and struck out seven batters in seven innings of work, earning her 11th win and second shutout of the season.

 

During the nightcap, Redlands tallied 10 hits and scored eight runs in six innings while holding the Sagehens to just three hits and no runs.

 

The Bulldogs initiated the scoring in the bottom of the first inning as Baga provided a sacrifice fly to score Neumann, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.

 

During the third inning, the Maroon and Gray added two runs and then followed that up with three more in the fifth.  Redlands solidified its lead with two runs in the sixth, gaining the win by the eight-run-rule.

 

Doeppel pitched for the Bulldogs, striking out three batters and scattering three hits.  She also went 3-for-3 from the plate with one RBI and one run scored.

 

With a 10-2 SCIAC record, Redlands (13-8, 10-2) sits atop the conference standings.  The Bulldogs welcome non-conference opponent Williams College (MA) to the “Field of Dreams” on Thursday for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.

 

 

 

La Verne coach takes Division I job

The University of La Verne has lost volleyball coach Don Flora to a better opportunity.

Flora, who led the program to national prominence in his 11 years, has resigned to take the lead assistant job at Division I New Mexico State. The resignation is effective March 27th.

He led the Leopards to the Division III championship match this season depite having a team with just two seniors. Among the wins was an upset of No. 1 Juniata (Penn.) in the national semifinal.

His team won a national title in 2001 and made trips to the semifinals in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The Leopards have won nine straight SCIAC titles and are 120-4 in conference play in that stretch. He has been named AVCA West Rregion Coach of the Year four times including this season.

Flora has done everything there is to do at this level and Division I jobs don’t come around often. The school was lucky to keep him as long as it did. He will be missed.

Citrus to dedicate new field

Citrus College along with the Citrus Community College Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that they will be dedicating their brand new softball complex on Tuesday March 31, 2009 at 2:00 PM.

 

Citrus College Superintendent/President Geraldine M. Perri, Ph.D. will address the crowd and throw out the ceremonial first pitch along with Board of Trustees President Mrs. Susan M. Keith.

 

Following the dedication ceremonies the Lady Owls softball team will take on visiting Canyons College ranked #9 in the State of California.

 

For more information regarding this event, please contact Paula Green in the Citrus College External Relations Office at 626/914-8873 or pgrreen@citruscollege.edu.

 

Redlands’ Laverty wins 200th game

The No. 19 University of Redlands baseball team rebounded from its loss against Rutgers University-Newark (NJ) from earlier in the afternoon, defeating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, 11-4, in non-conference action at The Yard on Sunday.

 

With the win, Head Coach Scott Laverty earned his 200th victory at the helm of the Bulldog baseball program and became just the third coach in the team’s history to accomplish that feat. Laverty won his first game on Feb. 11, 2000 by a 13-1 score against Whittier College. Jeff Tape ’00 earned the winning decision on the mound in Laverty’s first triumph as head coach.

 

Both teams scored early as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps posted one run on no hits and two errors in the first while Redlands responded with an RBI single by senior infielder Tony Stutevoss (Portland, OR) in the bottom of the inning.

 

Redlands took a 2-1 lead due to sloppy play by the Stag infield. Stutevoss singled through the right side to start out the inning, but he ended up advancing to second on an error by the pitcher on a failed pickoff attempt and went home on an erroneous throw by the first baseman.

 

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps equaled the score in the sixth, but the Bulldogs emerged victorious in the end due in large part to a productive offense in the bottom in the inning.

 

Senior utility player Will Wetmore (Santa Cruz, CA) doubled to right field with one out, and senior catcher Brett Sandford (Santa Barbara, CA) walked, giving the Bulldogs two men on board. Senior pitcher/infielder Evan Dunn (Portland, OR) grounded out and advanced the two runners, giving Redlands what looked like a dreary situation with two outs. The scoring started when junior shortstop Zack Braband (Alameda, CA) plated Sandford and Dunn with a double to right center, and Braband advanced to third on a passed ball in the ensuing at bat. Senior outfielder/catcher Kyle Rizzo (Redlands, CA) brought in Braband with a single through the right side and then stole second while Stutevoss was at bat. Stutevoss singled to third, which moved Rizzo over, and he lucked out with a botched catch in a steal attempt. Junior catcher Jefre Johnson (Canby, OR) cleared the bases with a single to centerfield, and senior outfielder Cory Vane (Simi Valley, CA) continued the offensive outburst with a single to third. Finally, senior outfielder Matt Goldstein (Lincoln, CA) closed out the fireworks with an RBI triple that scored Johnson and Vane.

 

The Stags scored once more in the top of the seventh, but the Bulldogs one-upped their opponent with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Dunn reached on an error by the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps shortstop and eventually stole second and third before scoring on a passed ball. Rizzo, who walked after Dunn stole second, came home via Stutevoss in the following at bat.

 

Rizzo scored an impressive three runs on one hit and two walks and notched one RBI. Batting a solid 4-for-5, Stutevoss fortified the offense with two runs and two RBI. Vane stretched his hitting streak to 12 consecutive games with a  2-for-5 showing while Braband also recorded a multi-hit game.

 

Junior pitcher/infielder Michael Lessig (Fountain Hills, AZ) pitched solidly for seven full innings, allowing just one earned run while striking out seven. Senior pitcher Kevin Bissell (Orange, CA) and sophomore pitcher Derek Johnson (Canby, OR) held the lead in relief, combining for one strikeout and one surrendered earned run. The Stags’ Kyle Shipley shouldered the loss.

 

Redlands (15-6) continues on with Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play on Friday when it hosts red-hot Pomona-Pitzer Colleges at 3 p.m.

 

Fontana native to play in NABC All-Star game

Fontana High School product Ira Graham has been selected to play in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II All-Star Game at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Friday. The event is held in conjunction with the Elite Eight.

It will be a nice honor for Graham, whose Western Washington University team lost to Seattle Pacific in a West Region quarterfinal on its own home court. He was visably upset after that loss despite having done his part with 29 points.

Now his last collegiate game doesn’t have to be a loss.

Earlier this month the 6-foot-1 senior guard earned Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors. He also was named to the first-team All-West Daktronics and NABC teams.

He finished his four-year career with 1,465 points, tying him for seventh among school leaders. This season he averaged 19.1 points and 3.2 assists and became the first player in school history with two 500-point seasons.

The all-star game is comprised of teams from the East and West, with at least two players from each of the eight regions competing. The 20 participants in the all-star game were chosen from a pool of 265 teams.

Tired Broncos prepare for Elite Eight

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team had its last practice today before heading off to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass. But not even that came easy. The Broncos were forced out of their own facility due to a sports festival that had the run of the campus.

The Broncos had to relocate to the University of La Verne for their final tuneup. They will leave on Sunday.

It is pretty much impossible not to like this team. Coach Greg Kamansky gets the most out of his team. He doesn’t carry 15 players as most schools do. He typically carries 10-12 and injuries this season have limited him to nine.

They don’t make excuses. They just play hard, play together – and win.

Let’s go back and review how the Broncos got there. They traveled to Bellingham, Wash. on a Wednesday for their regional quarterfinal, beating Cal State San Bernardino in overtime on Friday. Then they beat Seattle Pacific on Saturday, drove 100 miles to Seattle on Sunday, left on Monday to go to Honolulu to get ready to play Brigham Young-Hawaii on Wednesday.

They rally from a 15-point deficit and beat the No. 3 team in the country, which hadn’t lost in two months, on its home floor in front of 4,000 boisterous spectators.

Celebrate! Well just a little. Because now the players have stay up all night cramming for exams, then fly home on Thursday so they can take their tests on Friday, only to turn around and fly across the country two days later. I’m exhausted just thinking about that.

Before it’s over they will have played tournament games in three different time zones in a two-week span.

This team has had a knack for winning close games in dramatic fashion. Odds seem to be against them but that never mattered before. They play Southwest Minnesota State on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Here’s to hoping that magical run continues.

Season ends for UCR women

The UC Riverside women’s basketball team concluded the 2008-09 season with a 64-51 loss to Creighton University in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Saturday evening at the Civic Auditorium in Omaha. The Bluejays improve to 22-11 and advance to the second round of the WNIT, while the Highlanders finish with a 19-12 overall record.

The first half was very reminiscent of UCR’s most recent game against Cal Poly, in which there were numerous tie scores and lead changes within the first 20 minutes of play. Creighton went up by as much as eight points at the 6:58 mark, but the Highlanders whittled the lead to three, 30-27, at the break.

Kemie Nkele led UCR in the first half with 10 points and nine rebounds, including a last second layup at the buzzer. The Highlanders saw a 17-15 lead at the 9:21 mark turn into a 10-0 Bluejay run, giving Creighton their largest lead of the half.

UC Riverside, who averages just 14.4 turnovers per game, committed 12 in the first half alone as the Bluejays were able to capitalize on UCR’s miscues by converting 20 points off turnovers. The Highlanders were also outrebounded, 19-16, but most importantly gave up six more boards on the offensive glass, giving Creighton seven second chance points compared to UCR’s one.

In the second half the Bluejays drained 4-of-5 three-pointers and opened up a double-digit lead on multiple occasions. The Highlanders closed the gap to nine points, 51-42, with 7:33 remaining in the game, but could get no closer as the Bluejays held on for the win.

Nkele led the Highlanders with 18 points and 12 rebounds, her seventh double-double on the season and the 45th of her career. Seyram Gbewonyo added 10 points, Roney Friend had eight, Tainoisouti Lott contributed six, Chanel Foster had five, and Alyssa Morris added four.

For the game the Highlanders shot 42.9 percent from the floor but just 21.4 percent from beyond the arc. Conversely, Creighton shot 41.4 percent from the field but hit 50.0 percent of their long balls.

This was UCR’s first postseason WNIT appearance, but third postseason in the last four years. Creighton is 21-5 all-time in the WNIT, including a 2003 Final Four berth and a 2004 WNIT Championship.

The Highlanders say goodbye to eight seniors, each of whom have given so much to the UC Riverside women’s basketball program. Compiling a 70-54 record the last four years, the Highlanders won two Big West Conference Championships, went to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, and competed in the postseason in three of four years.

This season alone, UCR tallied a school-best 13-game win streak; had a school-best 14-2 conference record; and defeated their first top-25 opponent in a 50-47 win over then-No. 16 Vanderbilt back in December. Their 19 wins on the season also tied the record for the second-most wins in school history.

Nkele concludes her career as the all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots, and finishes 130 points away from the top spot in total points. Four different Highlanders also rank among the top-10 in multiple categories including games played, games started, rebounds, assists, field goals, and blocked shots.