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Loss Means Toros May Not Get Playoff Berth

Times Staff Writer

They’ll be watching and waiting for the word as early as Monday afternoon in Carson as to whether the Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball team gets another shot at postseason play.

But the plain fact of the matter is, the Toros blew the easiest chance they had to advance in the NCAA Division II playoffs when they couldn’t hold a 10-point lead Friday night and lost to scrappy Chapman College, 67-62, in overtime.

The stunning setback before 1,127 fans at Riverside City College in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. postseason basketball tournament probably cost the Toros a chance to advance, Dominguez Hills officials admitted.

Coach Dave Yanai characterized his team’s chances now as remote.

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“When you are at the mercy of a selection committee and you don’t get into the finals of your own conference tournament, it is not very good odds,” he said.

The 32 playoff teams are expected to be announced as early as Monday afternoon, according to Toro Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. But because of a quirk in scheduling, the brackets for the tournament will not be made public until next Sunday, and play will not begin until March 17.

It’s a good bet, however, that if the Toros (19-9) are selected, they would be sent to one of eight four-team regionals outside of California as a wild card.

Before Friday’s loss, most observers felt all the Toros needed to do was beat Chapman in the tournament opener to advance.

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And it appeared Dominguez Hills would do just that, leading by six points with 19 seconds remaining. In two previous meetings Dominguez Hills had had little trouble with the Panthers.

But back-to-back three-point shots by Chapman, the second with three seconds left in regulation, stunned Dominguez Hills. The Toros also missed the front end of three one-and-ones to close regulation play. In overtime they never got their composure back, handing Chapman six consecutive free throws to open the extra frame.

“I don’t think our kids thought this game was in danger,” said Yanai.

Now the entire season may be.

“Our conference is so tough, I feel Dominguez Hills deserves a post-season berth,” Chapman Coach Rich Prospero said.

Courtside observers were not stunned by the outcome, the third loss in four games for the Toros.

“Chapman has been playing extremely well,” said Riverside Coach John Masi, who was named CCAA coach of the year earlier Friday.

In some bittersweet news for Dominguez Hills, senior center Anthony Blackmon, as expected, was named the most valuable player in the conference. In addition, sophomore guard Robert Barksdale was named to the all-conference first team and senior guard Derrick Clark to the second team.

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Dominguez Hills, which at one time had a school record nine-game winning streak, finished a game behind Riverside in the final regular-season race.


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