By Franciso Padilla
Both the men’s and women’s basketball team’s seasons ended Feb. 27, as each squad dropped its first-round game to host Cal Poly Pomona Broncos in the California Collegiate Athletics Association tournament.
It was a rough night from the floor for the Toros in their 80-67 loss, as the Broncos held them to an underwhelming 37.5 shooting percentage.
After a close first quarter, where the Toros trailed by two, CSUDH struggled to find the net much in the second quarter which led to a Bronco 9-0 run four minutes into the quarter.
“It’s just basketball,” head basketball coach John Bonner said. “Shots don’t fall all the time and for us it’s about getting up as many shots as possible.”
Junior guard Nautica Morrow shot 6-22 from the court for 16 points and six assists. Senior forward Taylor Farris notched a double-double in her last game as a Toro with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Toros struggled to take care of the ball as they accumulated 17 turnovers which accounted for 11 of the Broncos points.
“We just played our style of basketball, and sometimes that means we got to make comebacks, but we’re a resilient group and we’ve been that way all year… but tonight we just came [up] a little bit short,” said Bonner.
The Broncos shot 45.6 percent from the field and were able to ride Dominique Dotson’s career high 25 points, which included 4-5 from beyond the arc, the win.
The Toros completed their first season under John Bonner, who was interim head coach last season. Their 13-15 record this season was a nine-game improvement over last year, and something Bonner believes bodes well for the future.
“When you bring in 11 new players and a brand new coaching staff, there’s a lot of meshing that has to happen in order for us to be successful and I think we took a lot of what we wanted to do and implemented that,” he said.
The men’s squad wouldn’t have been in the playoffs without the last second heroics of freshman guard Colten Kresl, who nailed a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer that propelled the Toros into the playoffs.
However, that momentum was halted by the top-seeded Broncos, who defeated the Toros, 73-60.
The Toros jumped out to an early 11-6 lead led by senior guard Jonathan Nichols, freshman forward Malcom Johnson, and senior guard/forward Glenn Baral, all of whom hit three-pointers in the first three minutes of the game.
But the Broncos put together two dominant scoring runs of 17-3 in the first half and 14-3 in the second half that put the game away.
“They have one of the best defenses in the conference so going in we knew we had to score the ball,” said Nichols. “We scored the ball early in the first half and we just broke down in the end.”
The Toros struggled to maintain possession of the ball as they committed almost twice as many turnovers (13) as the Broncos (7). These 13 turnovers led to 20 points for the Broncos.
Fellow seniors Baral and Nichols led the way for the Toros scoring 17 and 21 points, respectively. Johnson got into foul trouble early in the second half but was able to contribute when on the floor scoring 13 points to go along with his eight rebounds.
A noticeable absent was senior guard Khalil-Bedart Ghani, who, since returning from an injury Feb. 3, had helped the Toros win four of their last six games.
When asked about his absence, Head Coach Steve Becker responded with “Khalil got hurt in the last couple days of practice.”
The end of this season makes it the second consecutive year the Toros have made it to postseason play after not previously qualifying since the 2012-2013 season.
“Now it’s up to the next group to kind of take it up to the next level,” said Becker.
The Toros roster will be very different next season, with eight seniors having played their final game.