OGDEN, Utah — Cal Poly’s first trip to a postseason tournament as a Division I team didn’t last long enough for the Mustangs.
Weber State sent Cal Poly to a quick exit in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament with a runaway 85-43 victory at the Dee Events Center on Wednesday.
Senior shooting guard Scott Bamforth dropped in a game-high 23 points for the Wildcats, and junior center Kyle Tresnak added 20 more as the two combined to shoot 18 of 21 from the field.
Junior forward Davion Berry added 12 points, and freshman forward Joel Bolomboy contributed 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds as Weber State didn’t allow a Cal Poly scorer to reach double figures.
The Wildcats (27-6), who were beaten by Montana on Saturday in the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game for the third time in four seasons, bounced back from their disappointment in a big way, opening the game on a 14-2 run that turned into a 42-point blowout.
Weber State, which entered the CIT with the most wins and fewest losses of any school in the 32-team field, tied its school and Big Sky record for most wins in a season.
“The two teams are coming in with a similar situation where we’re both disappointed by not being in the NCAA Tournament,” Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said. “It comes down to sometimes, in that situation, the first team to really get it going builds their confidence and the other team gets a little frustrated.
“It was a perfect storm. It was as if we were a ship that hit the iceberg and ripped it open. We started taking on water, pressing, trying to get it back. We got down (14-2) and from that point on, we were simply trying to play catch-up, which is not our style of game.”
Cal Poly (18-14) shot just 30.4 percent and was outrebounded 38-29, while Weber State, ranked second in the nation in field goal and 3-point percentage, shot 60.0 percent.
Even with the loss, the Mustangs can look back on one of their most successful seasons in 19 years of Division I basketball. Their 18 wins are the second most in the Diversion I era; their last postseason appearance before this year came in the west regional of the 1986 Division II tournament and their last postseason win was in the 1982 Division II tourney.
Callero said there were three things to think about in evaluating Cal Poly’s season.
“We’ve got to look back at our year and be proud of what we accomplished as a whole,” he said. “We’ve got to look at the current (loss) and say, we’re not proud of the way we played. We’ve got to look at the future and realize that the past is a good foundation, but we need to learn from this one to say, we made our first-ever postseason appearance, but we better learn that if we get to a postseason tournament again, we’re going to represent ourselves much better than we did (Wednesday).”
The ’Stangs’ ’staches — the mustaches worn by seniors Dylan Royer and Drake U’u as Cal Poly won six in a row and nine of 10 before its Big West Tournament loss to Pacific — might have come in handy in Ogden.
Royer, who tied with freshman forward Zach Gordon with a team-high eight points, finishes his career in fifth place in school history in 3-pointers.
“The talent of Weber State was exactly what we expected. We knew they had shooters and good bigs, top rated in their conference in both offense and defense, we knew all that,” Royer said. “We just didn’t expect to be as flat as we were coming out. They deserved to win.”
Royer had the beginnings of a beard growing back Wednesday, but “the ’stache wouldn’t have helped tonight,” he said. “We just ran into a team playing really well.”
The senior guard from Morro Bay High said he’d see the season differently with more time to reflect.
“In looking back on it, I’ll definitely have only positive feelings. Right now, it still hurts, both ending the season this way and ending our conference season the way it ended. It still stings, it’s going to sting for a while, but we’re definitely optimistic for the future. After the emotion dies down, we’ll look back on it and be happy.”