Jason Smith tied the school record with seven three-pointers and led the Pioneers with 23 points in the win. (Photo: Kevin Hill)
Playing their best game since joining the CCAA in 2009, the Pioneer men’s basketball team stunned sixth-ranked and previously unbeaten Cal Poly Pomona, 57-54, on January 5.
The win improves the Pioneers to 4-2 in the CCAA. Cal State East Bay is 6-4 on the season . Cal Poly Pomona is 9-1 and 6-1 in CCAA play.
The Pioneers converted 11 three-pointers compared to one for the Broncos.
Jason Smith led the Pioneers with a season-high 23 points including seven 3-pointers. Jacari Whitfield hit three, 3-pointers to end the game with nine points. Whitfield had six assists. Roshun Wynne scored eight points, all in the second half and eight rebounds. Jurrell Turner contributed to the Pioneer victory with seven points and eight rebounds.
The Broncos were led in scoring by Tyquan Brown with 14 points.
“I can’t tell you what a great win this was for our team,” Pioneer coach Will Biggs said. “We played our tails off and really competed on the boards against a very physical Cal Poly Pomona team.”
A tenacious Pioneer defense held the Broncos, averaging 70 points a game, to only 20 first half points.
The Pioneers took a 16-10 lead with 13 minutes remaining on a Turner layup.
Smith converted a three-pointer as the Pioneers extended their lead to 24-16 with 7:41 remaining.
The Pioneers took a 30-20 halftime lead on an Adam Watts three-point play and Smith’s fourth 3-pointer of the first half.
Wynne, the Pioneers’ leading scorer in CCAA play, hit his first basket of the game to give the Pioneers a 33-22 advantage early in the second half.
Cal State East Bay built up a 42-28 lead with 14 minutes remaining on Whitfield’s three pointer.
The Broncos went on a 14-2 run the following eight minutes to trail 44-42.
Smith hit his seventh three-pointer of the game to give the Pioneers a 55-50 lead with 1:34 remaining.
With 12 seconds left, the Broncos’ Mitchel Anderson converted a layup to narrow the Pioneers’ lead to 55-54.
Smith secured the Pioneers’ big victory with two free throws with seven seconds left.
“Our perimeter shooting was a turning point in the victory,” Biggs said. “I’m so proud of this team to beat the No. 6 team in Division II and play so well in a very hostile environment.”
The Pioneers will play at San Francisco State on January 7 in the “Battle of the Bay."