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Men’s basketball rally late but not enough to overcome a sloppy start

Chico State mens basketball setting up defensive play against Cal Poly Pomona. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar
Chico State men’s basketball setting up defensive play against Cal Poly Pomona. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

Chico State men’s basketball came into Saturday’s game hot, riding a four-game win streak and a big win against the up until then undefeated University of San Diego on Thursday. Their grand start to the season was put to the test against Cal Poly Pomona, who was also on a four-game winning streak.

Both teams came into Saturday’s matchup at Acker Gymnasium 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Broncos were undefeated on the road and came in looking to prove why that was the case.

From the get-go, the Broncos took it to the Wildcats, scoring the first six points of the game. Chico State would continue to trail for the remainder of the half, although the Wildcats would tie the game two times.

With seven minutes left in half, Colby Orr cut the Broncos lead by three, but that hope was soon extinguished as the Wildcats went into the half down 22-34.

In the first half, the Broncos held Chico State to 22 points, 33.3% shooting from the field and 22.2% from three.

“As a team, you just have to know we’re better than that. In the first half, they were a lot more aggressive than us,” forward Spencer LaShells said. “They were kind of bullying us in the post, and they had a really good zone. We went in at half-time and came together as a team, picked ourselves up, talked about what was going wrong…”

The second half began how the first one ended with the Wildcats trailing. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Broncos lead by 20 points. A blowout victory seemed all but assured.

However, the unthinkable happened with a 95-second, 14 point, scoring run in the last five minutes of the game. Kevin Warren got hot late and ended the game leading Chico State in points with 15. He was also 5-6 from the field and 3-3 from three.

With four minutes left in the game, the Wildcats cut the lead to four points.

Then with 20 seconds left, they trailed by two with the ball. The Wildcats 18th turnover made sure that even with the rebound, they had no time left to make a play. Colby Orr frantically ran and shot at the timeline at the buzzer, and the shot was no good.

“I think the first half, obviously we didn’t come out with the right aggression level,” Guard Kevin Warren said. “The right fight, for a multitude of things. We were tentative. Then we started working our way back in the second half. We were still down by 15, but at least we were playing the right way. We were being more aggressive, playing better defense, they hit some tough shots. We fouled a little too much, but we were being overly aggressive, so it helped us come back into the game.”

The Wildcats fell to the Broncos 67-69. They are now 6-3 in the season and 2-2 CCAA play. The Wildcats continue their home stand on Thursday night against Cal State Monterey Bay. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m tipoff.

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] or @rtovarg13 on Twitter.

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