SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Amir Carraway's two free throws with 1.8 seconds left gave Chico State the school's first NCAA West Region Championship and sent the Wildcats to the promise land for Division II Basketball — the Elite Eight -- with an 81-80 victory against Cal State Stanislaus on Monday.
Chico State's final rebounded led to the demise of Stanislaus' hot streak, which ended with nine consecutive games. CCAA Champions Cal State Stanislaus ends the season 23-9. Chico State advances to the Elite Eight, March 26-29, in Evansville, Ind., with its 24-7 record and will face Southeast regional winner, either Montevallo and South Carolina-Aiken.
That rebound by Carraway came after a Jordan Semple missed free throw and Carraway nailed both shots to lift the Wildcats.
The play before that sequence also didn't help the Warriors. Sam Marcus' outlet pass down the court to Rob Walters was taken away and miscommunications caused Walters to reach-in to foul Semple at half court, allowing Chico State to get to the line with about four seconds left.
But the game didn't have to come down to those two Chico State possessions.
The Warriors were hitting on all cylinders and led 58-40 when Clinton Tremelling nailed a 3-pointer with 13:33 to play. After a second 18-point lead, at 12:09, on a pair of Shey Mataele free throws, an 8-0 run by Chico State gave the Wildcats some light. The run was highlighted by Semple's 3-pointer that cut the CSUS lead down to 10.
Still Stanislaus held a 13-point, 74-61 lead with 2:48 left. And the vocal Warrior Nation cheering section were chanting its signature "I believe we will win" cheer.
Then things went downhill. Another run by Chico, this time a 16-5 surge in the next two minutes made it a two-point game after a Sean Park layup.
The Warriors missed three of four free throw chances in the final 30 seconds to open the doors for Chico State. The Wildcats took it, converting on that Park layup and four of five free throws with four from Carraway, who was just 2 of 5 on the line prior.
Parker finished with 19 points and Carraway had 16.