Cal Poly Pomona wins wild one


POSTED: Thursday, March 19, 2009

What a stunner.

After a lapse for the ages, the Brigham Young-Hawaii Seasiders went from coasting to their first NCAA Division II quarterfinal appearance to their final appearance of the 2008-09 season.

In a wild finish to BYUH's banner year, visiting Cal Poly Pomona went on a 16-2 run capped off by a game-winning putback by Larry Gordon with 3.2 seconds left for a 59-58 victory in the NCAA II West Region final at raucous Cannon Activities Center last night in Laie.

Marques Whippy drove upcourt in the final seconds and his desperation shot from the top of the arc missed off the backboard and the front rim, and the Broncos mobbed each other at midcourt while the crowd of 4,221 were stunned silent for the first time all night.

Third-ranked and top-seeded BYUH lost in the West final for the second straight year. Third-seeded Pomona - which won the West the last time BYUH hosted, in 2003 - matched its farthest push in the postseason.

The Seasiders (27-2) were on the verge of winning their 25th straight game and moving just three victories away from their first national basketball title. They led 55-42 on a vicious alley-oop slam from J.R. Buensuceso to Lucas Alves with 7 minutes, 10 seconds left.

Instead of folding, Pomona (23-7) held the Seasiders without a basket the rest of the way and turned to a balanced attack to carry it down the stretch. The Broncos continued to chip away and the hosts had no answer, despite a deafening atmosphere in the CAC.

Alves hit two free throws to try to stop the bleeding, giving BYUH its last lead at 58-57 with 34.2 seconds left. After a deflection by Whippy gave the Broncos the ball back with 17.2 seconds left, CPP turned to its star player for the key basket. Gordon drove against considerable pressure, missed, but muscled for the rebound and powered through for the go-ahead putback.

“;(The lapse) wasn't because our defense wasn't there,”; said Alves, who had a team-high 18 points. “;I don't think our team let them come back, but the other team believed in themselves and never gave up. Our team stayed together and played hard.”;

“;It's tough because one rebound and we had it, and bam - he got it and put it back in,”; BYUH coach Ken Wagner said. “;It's just a tough loss.”;

The 6-foot-5 Gordon went for his 12th double-double of the season with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Tobias Jahn added 14, including several big layups during the key run.

Gordon was held to two points at halftime, but exploded for 16 in the second half.

“;I came out a little slow, tried to force the issue a little too much,”; said Gordon, who had one of the CAC nets draped around his neck. “;My teammates started making plays, and I fed off of that.”;

On pulling through down the stretch, Gordon said: “;I mean, that crowd was ridiculous. I give it to BYUH ... but our guys dug in one play at a time.”;

CPP exerted its slow-it-down style upon the up-tempo Seasiders (who came in averaging 92 points per game) and held the Seasiders to a season low in points and 37.3 percent shooting. The Broncos improved to 16-2 when they held opponents to under 60 points.

After the Broncos cut the deficit to three to open the second half, BYUH went on a 12-0 run to go up 42-27 for its largest lead of the game. That would be the end to the hosts' dominant play.

“;I thought for 33 minutes we were playing a little tentative,”; said CPP coach Greg Kamansky. “;We spread the court, started attacking more. We made the plays we needed to at the end of the game.”;

BYUH jumped out to leads of 13-5 and 18-9, but the Broncos clawed back in it by dropping back defensively and forced the Seasiders to beat them strictly in a halfcourt game, a departure from the strategy used by last week's two subregional opponents.

They ultimately didn't make enough shots against the Broncos' zone to break the game open.

“;We got the shots that we wanted, we just didn't put them in,”; Buensuceso said. “;I can't say nothing bad about my teammates - we all gave our blood, sweat and tears in that game.”;

By intermission CPP had the pace that it wanted and BYUH shot 36 percent in the first half. But the hosts closed the half on a 7-2 run to take a 28-23 lead at the break.

Cal Poly Pomona 59, BYUH 58

Broncos (23-7)


Seasiders (27-2)


Key - fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fould; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.

Halftime - BYU-Hawaii 28, Cal Poly Pomona 23.

3-point goals - CPP 3-9 (Thompson 2-3, Swift 1-3, Nasser 0-1, Gordon 0-1, Summers 0-1), BYUH 5-15 (Akana 3-7, Alves 1-3, Sims 1-2, Buensuceso 0-2, Reilly 0-1).

Steals - CPP 4 (Fells 2, Nasser, Summers), BYUH 4 (Buensuceso 3, Odjegba). Blocked Shots - CPP 1 (Gordon), BYUH 2 (Alves). Officials - Greg Nixon, Jim Bannowsky, David White. Attendance -4,221.