The sixth-seeded Red Storm saw Thompson produced balanced scoring with 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line. In 29 minutes, he grabbed four rebounds while hitting one shot from distance.
Senior forward Dalton Groskreutz added 11 points and four rebounds, while senior guard Kimball Payne and junior forward Zach Robbins filled the stat sheet with 19 points. Payne finished with six assists, but he and Robbins each had six turnovers. Robbins had seven rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. Junior center Jordan Rex led all Dixie State players with eight rebounds.
Seniors Louis Garrett, Curtis Papenfuss and Landon Clegg saw their tenure at Dixie State (21-7) come to a close with the loss. Garrett scored twice of drives to the basket in the second half to close with five points. Papenfuss had two points and three rebounds while Clegg missed his lone shot in six minutes playing in the first half.
Cal Poly Pomona (22-6) received an outstanding effort from Faison, who finished 7-of-12 from the field and connected on all five shots attempted from the charity stripe. DeRonn Scott was held below his season average in points, but joined Faison in double figures with 12 points.
Early in the first half, the Storm found gaps in the Bronco defense and held a 16-11 lead capping a 7-2 run with a lay-in from Papenfuss and a jump shot from Thompson.
CPP ramped up the pressure and lengthened out on their zone, one of the major reasons the club boasts the best scoring defense in the country. Offensively, Scott hit a pair of floaters in the paint to lead an 8-3 charge over the final five minutes as Cal Poly Pomona grabbed a 31-27 halftime lead.
"Credit to Cal Poly, that 2-3 (zone) is tough," Thompson said postgame.
The Red Storm came out in the second half and cute the lead to one on a slashing Payne lay-in and Thompson's 3-pointer. An adjustment in the DSU offensive philosophy led the spark
"Coach said at halftime that we needed to penetrate their zone a lot better," Payne said. "The first half we were standing around … and they were able to match up."
Following the Dixie State spurt, the Broncos went on a 12-4 run for their biggest lead of nine points, 45-36. CPP started an ended the rally with 3-point buckets while Faison delivered in multiple ways.
The Storm rebounds to cut in to the CPP advantage three more times. Thompson sparked a 6-0 spurt knocking down three free-throws after a shooting foul and sophomore guard Robbie Nielson benefitted from a nice rim bounce to deliver a 3-pointer to trim the lead to three. As they did before, CPP padded the advantage with four straight points.
Payne brought the Storm within one, 53-52, with a pair of free throws. CPP, statistically the worst free throw shooting team in the California Collegiately Athletic Association, was spectacular in the second half from the line. Their 18-of-21 performance (85 percent) built the lead back up to eight in the final minute.
Groskreutz chipped away at the lead with two shot from behind the arc late, but it was three untimely turnovers in the final minute and CPP charity shots that secured the win for the third seed.
"I thought our kids played extremely hard, we had some chances," head coach Jon Judkins said. "Turnovers hurt us and some missed foul shots … but these guys played. I thought they gave it everything they had, and that is all I can ask for."
When asked about the Cal Poly Pomona defense, Judkins was praising.
"I challenged our guys to play defense," he said. "Defense wins games and wins championships, and I give them credit for what they did."