Rob Walters tries to be a difference-maker each time he steps on the court.
On Thursday afternoon, Cal State Stanislaus‘ 6-foot-7 forward was just that.
Walters had 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead a second-half charge as the Warriors beat Cal State Los Angeles 58-52 to advance to the California Collegiate Athletic Association semifinal.
In winning its first CCAA Tournament game, the Warriors will play Cal State San Bernardino today at 12:05 p.m. for the right to play in the championship game and a possible NCAA Division II Tournament berth.
“I just try to come up and provide that emotional spark for our team, both on offense and defense,” Walters said in the post-game radio interview. “I try to take my job very serious (to help the team win).”
He and his teammates will need more of the same today against top-seeded San Bernardino, which beat the Warriors by 15 in January and by two last month in Turlock. In that second game, Walters sat out after suffering a concussion.
On Thursday, the No. 4-seed Warriors came out flat and trailed 24-21 at halftime.
However, Walters scored 15 of his points in the final 20 minutes, including a 9-for-9 effort from the free-throw line.
“(Coach told us) to play our game,” Walters said. “We weren't playing our game in first half. We needed to come out and have fun (and) enjoy ourselves in the second half.”
The Warriors (19-8) trailed 35-34 before a Walters tip-in started a 14-2 run that gave Stanislaus an 11-point lead with 7 minutes, 36 seconds to play.
Cal State Los Angeles (15-12), seeded fifth, cut the margin to five with 2:23 left, but the Warriors hit free throws down the road to seal the victory.
Marcus Bell, Shey Mataele and Chris Read all scored 11 points for the Warriors. Duce Zaid had 21 points for the Golden Eagles.
Notes – Bell was named to the All-CCAA first team and Read was named Newcomer of the Year as the conference released its postseason honors. San Bernardino swept player (Lacy Haddock) and coach of the year (Jeff Oliver) honors. ... Chico State beat San Francisco State 78-66 on Thursday to advance to today’s other semifinal. The Wildcats will face No. 2-seed Cal Poly Pomona at 2:35 p.m. Saturday’s title game is at 5:05 p.m. ... Today’s Stanislaus-San Bernardino came can be heard on KEFC (100.5 FM) and seen at www.liquidevent.tv.