It was a little bit of a different road that the Warriors took this year, but the Cal State Stanislaus men's basketball team has qualified for the CCAA conference tournament with Saturday night's 68-62 win over Sonoma State.
Chris Read scored 23 points and had his best scoring night in 10 games since Jan. 17 as the Warriors moved up to 12-8 in conference play for a two-way tie with Cal State San Bernardino for fifth. More importantly, the Warriors have secured a spot in the postseason tournament scheduled for March 5-7 in Stockton, as they have a three-game lead on seventh place Cal State Monterey Bay with two games to go.
Last season, the Warriors rolled into the tournament on a hot streak with a four-game winning streak and were 5-1 in the final three regular season weekends. This time around, they had gone 1-5 in their last six before Saturday's clinching win. Stanislaus had sole possession of first place back on that day on Jan. 17 after beating San Francisco State.
Still, returning to the tournament to defend their title was the first goal — and the Warriors have achieved that.
Cal State Stanislaus (15-10 overall) will be playing for seed position and hope to gain positive momentum with the final regular season weekend at home against Cal State East Bay and Cal State Monterey Bay.
Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona remain tied for first at 16-4, followed by UC San Diego and Humboldt State, both at 13-7. The Warriors and Cal State San Bernardino round out the six qualifying teams.
On Saturday against the Sonoma State Seawolves, the Warriors led wire to wire and had their biggest lead at 14 late in the first half at 27-13 with 5:55 to go.
Sonoma State (8-12 CCAA) got as close as three points on several occasions with the last at 12:03 to go on a Khlaid Johnson three-pointer at 12:03 to play. Then, Alek Carlson made a trey to start a 11-3 Warrior run that gave them some cushion down the stretch.
In the final 1:11, the Warriors made 6 of 10 free throws to hang on for the win.
Wes Bartole chipped in 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help the cause. Shey Mataele and Christian Bayne each scored eight points.