Sonoma State University men’s basketball looked to snap its five-game losing streak when it traveled down to Southern California to face the Broncos at Cal Poly Pomona on Friday night. The Broncos came into the game with the best record in the CCAA with an 18-5 record and a 15-4 mark in the conference. The Seawolves, lead by top scorer Armani Nicolis, came into the contest with a 9-13 record and a 7-11 total during conference play.
The game started off a little on the slower side, with neither team scoring for more than two minutes into the game, then Jackson Gion got it going. The senior guard got it started for the Seawolves, making the first two baskets for the team, a pair of 3-pointers. Buckets then followed from Lewayne Grant, Eric Nielsen, Mason Phillips and Nicolis all contributing to the early Sonoma State lead.
They would maintain that lead for most of the first half. At one point the Seawolves got the lead to 10 with 4:42 left in the first half.
When asked what was working for the team, guard Jordan Fleck noted the strong defensive play.
“Yeah, the 2-3 zone defense we were playing was definitely working for us. It also helped on the offensive side; we would get rebounds off misses and then run in transition, which is a big strong suit of this team, and it has been all year,” Fleck said.
When the Seawolves got their 10-point lead late in the first half, the Broncos started to pull themselves back into the fold. Pomona began making its shots on the 2-3 defense, which is one that calls on the offense to make its outside shots in to be successful. Pomona started to go on a scoring run of its own, so when the Seawolves were clinging to a two point lead, halftime couldn’t have come at a better time.
Unfortunately for Sonoma State, that two-point lead that it held at the half was the last time it saw its name on top for the rest of the night. The Broncos went on a 13-2 scoring run to start the second half and never looked back. The Seawolves did not score their first points of the second half until almost halfway through the half, and by that time it was too late.
Behind their home crowd, the offense of Pomona, lead by junior guard Jordan Ogundiran, was simply too much for Sonoma State to keep up with. Gion lead the team with 12 points, but the Seawolves eventually ended up getting outscored 38-23 in the second half, and lost the contest 64-51. The Seawolves dropped to 9-14 (7-12), while the Broncos improved to 19-5 (16-4) on the season.
Sonoma State tried to write a different tale on Saturday than the one it had on Friday, when they faced the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes. The game, held in San Bernardino, was a contest that the Seawolves needed to win to stop a six-game losing streak.
“We are going to play as a unit and have each other’s back no matter what, through thick and thin, through the ups and downs,” Fleck said.
This resilience and the relentlessness to win has been keeping this team clicking this year. Through all the scoring difficulties and the new faces, it has stuck together and fought each game.
As for the game, the Seawolves came out hot, but unfortunately for them, the Coyotes came out even hotter. The Coyotes let it fly from the field early on, and they were connecting at a high rate from the get-go. The Seawolves, though never touching a lead in the first half, kept the game within reach by plugging away with key baskets to stop a big San Bernardino run. Whenever the Coyotes wanted to pull away and make it a blowout, the Seawolf defense would create a turnover and a transition basket to stop the run. With this happening, Sonoma State brought the lead down to nine heading into the locker room after the first half.
As they have shown all year, the Seawolves weren’t going to go down without a fight. They started the second half with five straight points on their way to a 15-8 scoring run through the first 10 minutes of the second half to cut the Coyote lead to two at 39-37. Just like Fleck had said before the game, the keys of having each other’s backs and turning defense into offense with fast breaks was working well for them.
That two-point lead didn’t hold up for very long, and the Coyotes started to pull away with a scoring run of their own. Behind their home crowd of 410 people, the team from Southern California closed the game on a 28-17 run, to put to rest any ideas that Sonoma State had of making a comeback on the road.
The Seawolves ended up losing the game by a score of 67-54, moving their losing streak to seven and making their record 9-15 (7-13).
Cal State San Bernardino, on the other hand, gained a big win in their quest to be above .500 for the season. They improved to 13-12 (11-10) on the season and have one matchup left with conference rival Cal Poly Pomona.
The Seawolves are back in action Friday to face the Jacks of Humboldt State. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.