March 14, 2009

Laie, HI -- Maybe it's the atmosphere on the islands or the rigourous yet rewarding practices that the Cal State Dominguez Hills men's basketball team has been through. Whatever it was, the Toros used tremendous intensity to grab a first round 87-83 win over the Wildcats of Central Washington in the NCAA D-II West Region Championships. Rodney Yearby led all Toros with 18 points and nine boards on the night while also grabbing three steals.

"It was our team intensity and great senior leadership that attributed to the win", said head coach Damaine Powell about the win. "We came out aggresive early and Central Washington never really recovered. They chased us the whole game but it takes alot of energy to chase someone with our intensity in this atmosphere."

The Toros started a strong offensive push the first half and never looked back, quickly building their lead into the double-digit barrier off two Robert Willhite freebies for a score of 21-11. They would quickly reach a lead of 15, their biggest of the half, courtesy of the Toros king beyond the arc, Jonathan Toliver.

The Wildcats attempted their biggest push in the first off six straight shots from the charity line, all of them good to drop CSUDH's lead to eight at 27-19. It took another three, this time off the hands of Ryan Walton to push the Toros to a healthly lead at 21-19 entering the break.

The Toros would once again see their lead at 15 in the second following a Yearby jumper from the paint and keep it at a healthy double-digit mark for a strong four minutes until CWU's Giovonne Woods finally turned the tide on a fastbreak.

A steal from CSUDH's Jamal Ward would drive a fastbreak and land the ball in Aaron Tinsley's hands to give back CSUDH the lead it was accostomed too at 47-31.

Fouls began to plague the Toros in the last half of the second as the Wildcats would use every opportunity it was given to slash the Toros lead to at one point only only four points with 7:32 left in regulation.

Forced to check out with eight minutes left in the second, the re-entry of Yearby with just under five minutes left reignited a lagging Toro offense and re-built their lead back to ten at 68-58 with four left in play.

The final minute of play saw the most action as the Wildcats played with renewed enthusiasm in their quest to take their first lead of the game, dropping the Toros lead to as little as four with nine seconds left. Two Hernandez freebies gave the Toros enough breathing room and the lead at six which would knot them the win despite a too-little, too-late jumper from CWU's Woods for a final score of 87-83.

Other Toro leaders on the night included Hernandez and Walton, both with 11 points and a respective seven and four boards. Both Jamal Smith and Ward tallied an additional 10 points apiece to round out the Toros offense.

Overall the Toros converted 25-52 from the floor for 48.1% shooting, while the Wildcats went only 38%. The biggest discrepancy in the game came from the line where CSUDH went 31-50, slightly worse that CWU's 27-37.

"We came here hungry, we don't want to win just one game and go home," coach Powell says as he looks to tomorrow's contest. "We are going to give our best performance and play Dominguez Hills basketball and see what happens.

Now with a record of 22-7, the Toros are tied as the winningest program in the history of CSUDH basketball with the last program to tally 22 wins coming in 1987 under the direction of Dave Yanai. CSUDH will see action against either BYU-Hawai'i of Humboldt State with the two teams competing tonight. Tomorrow's action is set to tip-off at 10:00pm Pacific Time.