Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball team holds off Cal State L.A. to remain in CCAA title contention – Press Enterprise

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SAN BERNARDINO — Gus Argenal isn’t going to let great be the enemy of good.

It took a last-minute defensive stand, but Cal State San Bernardino held on to beat No. 25 Cal State L.A. 73-70 Thursday night at Coussoulis Arena in a critical California Collegiate Athletic Association matchup.

“It was not pretty and we did not write the book on how to finish correctly, but you got to get the win,” Argenal said.

Chris Mitchell, the reigning CCAA player of the week, had game highs with 24 points and four assists for CSUSB (14-4 overall, 9-3 CCAA), which draws even with Cal State L.A. near the top of the conference standings with 10 games left in the regular season.

“We were sharing the ball and I think tonight it was more about defense first for us,” Mitchell said. “That’s a game-by-game mindset.”

Cal State Dominguez Hills (15-3, 10-2) currently leads the conference. The Toros travel to play in San Bernardino on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.

“Being at home and protecting home court is huge, and Dominguez being one game ahead of us makes it huge,” Argenal said.

Ranked just outside the Top 25 in the recent NABC Division II poll, Cal State San Bernardino lost 95-85 at Cal State L.A. on Jan. 6, but the Coyotes now have won six of their last 10 games against one of its newer rivals.

“We wanted to get that last taste out of mouths,” said Robbie Robinson, who tallied a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The teams traded shots over the first 5 minutes on Thursday night and Cal State L.A. (14-4, 9-3) took an 16-10 lead after Corey Cofield went coast to coast for a layup.

The Golden Eagles consistently ran a tight weave at the top of the key and held a 19-17 advantage midway through a physical first half in which both teams shot above 48 percent.

San Bernardino tied the game at 37-37 with a minute remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer from Altman, but a pair of free throws from A’Jahni Levias gave CSULA a two-point lead at halftime.

Evan Guillory dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds to begin the second half but consistent defensive pressure kept the score close.

Robinson gave the Yotes a 48-47 lead with a smooth spin move and basket, and Mitchell’s mid-range jumper started to fall.”(Mitchell) has the inate ability to make something out of nothing,” Argenal said.

Another 3-pointer from Altman put CSUSB up 60-56 with 9 minutes to play.

“He’s made clutch shots for us in big games all year and they’re almost all daggers, the kind that put teams to sleep,” Argenal said.

The Yotes led by as many as six points but Cal State L.A. refused to go away. Duce Walker dribbled down the lane and completed a three-point play to make it 68-65 with 4 minutes left.

“We kind of figured out what we needed to do on defensive end in the second half – guard the 3-point line – and I thought we did a good job of that,” Argenal said.

Altman’s fourth 3-pointer – he was 4-for-9 from beyond the arc – pushed the lead back to six and set up a tense finish.

CSULA made 5 of 6 free throws over the final 2 minutes to get within one point, and a charge call against Guillory gave the Golden Eagles the ball back.

With less than 1 minute on the clock, CSULA had two looks at a game-winner but both were off the mark and Altman grabbed the final rebound, was fouled and sank two free throws with 0.4 ticks left to seal the win.

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