POMONA, Calif. - Defending its California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men's Basketball Championship title, the University of California San Diego defeated 19th-ranked Cal Poly Pomona, 68-66, in Saturday's tournament final at Kellogg Arena. The win also gave the Tritons an automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA Championship.
Leading by as many as 19 points in the second half, UC San Diego overcame a late run by Cal Poly Pomona that cut its advantage to a single point with just :03 on the clock. On UCSD's possession, Christian Oshita was fouled with one second left. He sunk his first free throw and missed the second intentionally, allowing the clock to run out before the Broncos could push the ball down the court and get a good shot off.
UCSD improved its season record to 21-10 with the victory. It is the program's third CCAA Championship crown as the Tritons also won in 2008 and 2017.
Christian Bayne scored a team-high 16 points while adding a career-best seven assists for UC San Diego. The junior guard also finished with four rebounds and a steal. Senior guard Anthony Ballestero had 12 points, three assists, and two steals, while Oshita, a junior guard/forward, totaled 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting while grabbing four boards.
Oshita earned tournament MVP honors, while Bayne and redshirt freshman guard Mikey Howell (San Marcos/San Marcos HS) joined him on the all-tournament team.
As a team, UCSD shot 47.8 percent (22-46) for the game. The Tritons made eight of 21 three-point shots, 38.1 percent. They were out-rebounded, 36-26, with Cal Poly Pomona holding an 8-4 advantage on the offensive glass. Both teams turned the ball over 16 times.
The Tritons got off to a slow start as they found themselves down 11-2 at the 12:47 mark of the opening half. Consecutive threes by Bayne and Ballestero got them right back in it. A steal and layup by Howell had the Tritons within a point. That was followed with a steal by senior forward Michael Shoemaker that set up a layup by senior guard George Buaku, giving UC San Diego its first lead of the game, 14-13, at 9:56.
CPP's Justin Young threw down a dunk to tie the game at 17-17, but senior forward Kenny Fraser made a layup at 5:40 that put UC San Diego back in front for good. Fraser ended the first half with another layup to move UCSD in front by seven points, 28-21.
In a complete reversal of their first half start, the Tritons scored 14 of the first 16 points in the second stanza. Bayne had five points during the run, including a three that gave UCSD a 19-point lead, 42-23, with 15:27 remaining.
UC San Diego was up 14, 58-44, before the Broncos began their comeback bid. At 5:30, Riley Schaefer hit a three-pointer to ignite a run in which Pomona out-scored UCSD 22-9. Phoenix Shackelford totaled eight points during the stretch and his trey was the shot that brought the Broncos back to within a point, 67-66, with three ticks on the clock.
For Cal Poly Pomona, William Christmas finished with a game-high 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Christmas and Schaefer each had a game-best eight rebounds with Schaefer also contributing 13 points.
The Broncos shot 47.1 percent (24-51) overall. They improved to 53.6 percent (15-28) in the second half after hitting at just 39.1 percent (9-23) in the first.
CPP fell to 23-6 with the loss.
UC San Diego avenged an 80-69 regular season loss against Cal Poly Pomona on Feb. 9 in La Jolla. The Tritons are now 3-0 all-time versus the Broncos in CCAA tourney play.
The 64-team field and pairings for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship will be announced on Sunday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. PT at NCAA.com.
UC San Diego will be making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament. The Tritons have advanced to the West Region championship game (Sweet 16) in each of the last two years.