Stanislaus will take on Chico — again — in the second round of the postseason.
For the second consecutive season the California State University, Stanislaus men's basketball team is right back in the semifinal round of the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament after a second half surge led to a 61-46 win over UC San Diego on Thursday night at Stockton Arena.
“We knew we needed to have that and our biggest thing is to hold our opponents to 60 or under and we got that accomplished tonight because that will give us a chance to win,” said Stanislaus head coach Larry Reynolds.
Seniors Rob Walters and Wes Bartole led the team with a double-double apiece after each started off cool but in the second the tandem of best friends went off.
Walters scored a game-high 13 and grabbed a game-high 11 boards while Bartole added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We knew coming in this year it would be our last year so we are trying to stick together and go as far as we can because we know what this team is capable of,” said Walters. “With seven seniors that we have, we try not to think of it, our motto is to focus on the now and task at hand.”
The win marks the fourth consecutive victory for the Warriors and also their third victory over San Diego this season to take the 3-0 sweep and they have won four of the last five against the Tritons.
“Last year I feel like we had to turn it on and this year has been more of a process to get to where we are at and it’s a little more rewarding to win,” said Stanislaus junior Alek Carlson. “Obviously last year winning the CCAA is the best, but this year if we are lucky enough to make it there I think it will be more rewarding.”
To get there the Warriors must take on the team that ended their season last year — Chico State, who are the number one seed in the CCAA tournament.
Stanislaus must play a well-balanced game like they did on Thursday.
The rebounding game was key for the Warriors success in order to attempt second chance points and they got a lot of it especially after out-rebounding the Tritons, 38-29.
After a tight first half, San Diego led by one, but the Warriors were just settling into their groove.
Stanislaus took the lead in the early minutes of the second half after Tyler Barber's three gave the Warriors a 27-25 lead.
From that point on the Warriors just felt right at home and they went on a 37-21 surge in the final half, including a 15-5 run in the final four minutes.
Two former Turlock High graduates also took their play on the court when Kenny Fraser and Carlson played against one another but unfortunately they never made contact on the court.
“I said 'what's up to him' and I am glad he is out there and he made it playing in the rotation in the playoffs as a freshman is awesome,” Carlson said. “I just wish we would've matched up on each other but it’s cool. It was great to see Kenny out there, I am very proud of him.”
Defense was also vital for the Warriors success after holding the Tritons to a shooting percentage of 33.3 from the field for the game.
“I think the biggest thing is these guys go out and play and have fun no matter who it is on the other side. We will be ok if we do that,” Reynolds said.
Stanislaus will take on Chico State on Friday night at Stockton Arena at a time yet to be announced.
“It is definitely a rivalry. We’re excited nobody on our team likes them and we know they don't like us, so it will be a very good game,” Carlson added. “It will be an intense game for sure. We know what happened last year at the end of the year.”