SAN BERNARDINO — The ultimate Warrior wasn’t about to let on how much pain he was in.
Rob Walters’ work on defense and on the boards frees up so much of everything else Cal State Stanislaus is able to do on the basketball court, but he came into the NCAA Division II West Regional with his right hand and wrist heavily taped and with a huge job to do.
Walters, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Moreno Valley via College of the Sequoias, suffered a wrist and hand sprain during last weekend’s California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship game when he was cut while rebounding during the title-clinching victory over Chico State.
His task was somehow to slow down the offense of Seattle Pacific’s most frightening offensive player, 6-8 senior Patrick Simon, who not only averages 16.7 points per game, but entered the game connecting on 51.3 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Walters found out during practice that Simon was his to defend, and was feeling good about it on Friday for about 30 seconds.
It was at that point, late into Stanislaus’ first possession of the game, that Walters was tripped while going across the lane, falling hard on his hand. It hurt too much to shake, so he just held it in his other hand while running back on defense.
The injury might have slowed Walters on offense, where he finished with nine points to go with his nine rebounds. But on defense, there was no way Simon, a transfer from Washington State, was going to to have his way.
Simon got only six shots in the game, going 0-for-5 when Walters was on the court and hitting his lone attempt with Walters on the bench, finishing with two points.
“I took it seriously and I didn't want him to score at all,” Walters said. “I like playing defense and I like guarding the best player on the other team.
“I hate when people score on me, so I was being physical. On film I didn't see anyone being physical with him, so I was able to get into him and take him out of his game.”
Walters went commando in the second half, taking the court with no support tape on his hand. And in the final minutes of regulation, Walters again took a tumble, again landing on his hand, again springing to his feet in much more pain than he was about to let anybody know.
“It was just a little re-injury, a little aggravation,” Walters said. “It didn't hurt me on defense, but it did on offense. And the tape, it was bothering me, so I took it off and just dealt with it.”
CCAA POISED FOR REGIONAL SWEEP
Cal Poly Pomona earned its spot in the regional semifinal with a 73-65 victory over Dixie State behind the 20 points of Jordan Faison. Pomona (22-6) was outrebounded 39-26 by Dixie, and Stanislaus was able to exploit the Mustangs’ weakness on the boards in a 74-73 double overtime victory on Feb. 28.
Chico State rebounded from last Saturday’s CCAA Tourney loss to the Warriors to defeat Cal Baptist 77-71 in the third game of the session.
The win paved the way for the CCAA the chance to crowd the regional semifinals with four teams, a scenario that fell into place when host CSU San Bernardino edged Chaminade in Friday’s late game. Stanislaus meets Cal Poly Pomona today at 5 p.m., with San Bernardino taking on Chico at 7:30.