March 25, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Mass – Cal Poly Pomona has traveled 10,000 miles throughout its 2009 NCAA Tournament run, but no step was more important than the one the Bronco’s took today with their 79-74 quarterfinal victory against Southwest Minnesota State at the MassMutual Center.

Cal Poly Pomona (24-7) will now meet Augusta State in a national semifinal game tomorrow. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 pm. The Jaguars (30-4) advanced with a 70-62 quarterfinal victory versus Christian Brothers University.

Both teams shot well with Southwest Minnesota State (21-6) converting 54.2 percent (26-for-48) of its chances and Cal Poly Pomona burying 56.8 percent (25-for-44) of its opportunities. However, the Broncos generated an 18-5 rebounding advantage in the second stanza and drained a sizzling 89.7 percent (26-for-29) of their free throws for the game, the second highest such mark in Elite Eight annals.

“The game was typical of how we were playing over the last couple of months. We weren’t in sync early, but in the second half we rebounded very well and our free throws were critical. We made the plays we needed to make, and that was the difference,” said Cal Poly Pomona head coach Greg Kamansky.

Senior forward Larry Gordon registered his 13th “double-double” of the year and established himself as the all-time leading rebounder (938) for Cal Poly Pomona. Gordon finished with 21 points, via 8-for-11 shooting from the floor, and 10 boards to pace four double-digit scorers. Sophomore forward Tobias Jahn tossed in 13 points, while junior guard Dahir Nasser and senior guard Walter Thompson scored 12 points apiece.

Senior guard Andy Beilke finished with 17 points and fellow senior backcourt mate Ryan Krome had 13 points and five assists for Southwest Minnesota State, which saw its second Elite Eight appearance of the decade conclude with a quarterfinal setback.

The contest was close throughout with eight ties over the opening 25 minutes and with neither club able to generate a double-digit advantage.

Cal Poly Pomona overcame a 33-29 halftime deficit with a 9-2 spurt at the onset of the second period that afforded the Bronco’s a 38-35 lead with 17:22 remaining. Southwest Minnesota State then responded with eight of the ensuing 11 points during the next two minutes to go back up by two, 43-41.

However, Tobias scored three straight buckets via a jumper and a fastbreak layup that preceded a basket in the paint. Thompson then put the final touches on the 8-0 run with a jumper. The end result was a 49-43 Cal Poly Pomona advantage with 12:12 remaining.

The Broncos never trailed again although the Mustangs twice pulled to within a point during the next seven minutes thanks to a Krome 3-pointer and a trey from junior guard DeAnthony Sanders. However, each time Cal Poly Pomona’s Thompson responded with a 3-pointer of his own to keep Southwest Minnesota State in arrears.