Mustangs Rally to Defeat UC Riverside, 65-60
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Junior forward David Hanson led all scorers with 21 points, freshman guard Jamal Johnson added 11 and junior guard Matt Titchenal registered a career-high nine as the Cal Poly men's basketball team, fueled by a season-best 12 three-pointers, overcame a 10-point deficit late in the first half to triumph versus UC Riverside on Thursday evening at the Student Recreation Center, 65-60.
Junior center Will Donahue added a career-high 14 rebounds and senior guard Shawn Lewis finished with 11 points for Cal Poly (8-9, 4-2), which retained second place in the Big West Conference standings by recording its second-highest marks of the season for field goal (45.1) and three-point (41.4) percentage. The Mustangs, who entered Thursday's matchup as the nation's leader in three-point field goal defense, limited UC Riverside (7-10, 2-3) to just three conversions in 11 attempts (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
Winners of four of their previous five games, the Mustangs can match the program record for best start to a Big West campaign by prevailing on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Cal State Northridge. Tip is set for 1 p.m. at the Matadome and the matchup will air live on Fox Sports Net PRIME.
Hanson converted five of his initial six shot attempts and scored 12 of Cal Poly's initial 14 points on Thursday as the Mustangs led 14-7 after just six minutes. UC Riverside, which shot 56.0 percent from the floor during the first half, responded with a 23-6 run during the ensuing 13 minutes – holding Cal Poly scoreless for six minutes at one stretch – to lead, 30-20, four minutes before halftime.
Backed by three-pointers from Hanson and sophomore guard Chris O'Brien, Cal Poly responded with an 8-0 run to close its deficit to two points two minutes prior to the break. Despite Johnson's second three-pointer of half during the final seconds though, Cal Poly trailed at intermission, 35-31.
Cal Poly, however, converted five of its initial six shots out of halftime and, helped by seven points from Lewis, grabbed a 43-39 lead with 15 minutes to play. Sparked by Titchenal (above) and Johnson, who totaled 11 of Cal Poly's 34 second-half points, Cal Poly opened a 56-50 advantage with seven-and-a-half minutes to play. A three-pointer by Hanson moments later pushed Cal Poly's lead to 61-52.
The Highlanders twice cut Cal Poly's advantage to three points with fewer than three minutes remaining, but Lewis – who recorded all 11 of his points during the second half – buried successive free throws 32 seconds from the final buzzer to ice the game.
O'Brien distributed a game-high four assists for Cal Poly.