For the second straight year, the Chico State Wildcats ended the Warriors' season as they won the CCAA conference tournament semifinal game, 72-60, Friday night at the Stockton Arena.
The Warriors scored just six points in the game's final 10 minutes to see their slim three-point lead disappear thus ending their season 18-11 overall.
Chico State out-scored Cal State Stanislaus 21-6 in that final 10-minute stretch to advance to Saturday's championship game against the winner of Humboldt State and Cal Poly Pomona game.
"I thought it was a hard fought contest tonight. Both teams let it all out on the line out there," head coach Larry Reynolds said. "Unfortunately we came up a little short."
Chris Read led the Warriors with 12 points and four steals, Wes Bartole scored 11 points with seven rebounds and Shey Mataele chipped in 11 points. Rob Walters, who was in foul trouble early in the first half, never could get going and finished with eight points and two rebounds.
Chico State was led by top scorer Robert Duncan's 23 points. Jordan Semple had eight of the team's 37 rebounds as the Wildcats out-rebounded the Warriors, 37-22.
Against the Wildcats' zone defense in the second half, the Warriors had little answers on offense while Chico State dominated the defensive rebounds to not allow second-chance shots by Stanislaus.
After a Tyler Barber three-pointer at 10:19 to play in the second half that gave the Warriors a 54-51 lead, the Stanislaus offense went quiet. Bartole, Read and Walters each scored two points as the Warriors shot 2 for 12 from the floor and 0 for 7 from the arch during that part of the game.
The Warriors end their magical run just shy of reaching the CCAA championship game, a title they won last season in Ontario by beating Chico State.
It also marked the end of a special senior class that has brought the Cal State Stanislaus men's basketball program back as a regional contender.
"I was sad that it had to end this way. I wanted us to have another chance to get another ring. I wanted to get the new guys a chance to get a ring, but unfortunately it ended," Mataele said.
"(This special class of seniors) will be very difficult to replace. We have some young guys waiting in the wings to show what they can do and we will also have to hit the recruiting trails," Reynolds said.