Mustangs Stay in Second with 80-71 Victory at UC Irvine
IRVINE, Calif. – Senior guard Shawn Lewis registered a season-high 25 points and junior center Will Donahue pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds as the Cal Poly men's basketball team extended its winning streak to four games – the program's lengthiest stretch in as many seasons – with an 80-71 triumph against UC Irvine on Thursday evening at the Bren Center.
Junior forward David Hanson and freshman guard Maliik Love added 14 points apiece and Donahue (above) solidified his ninth career double-double with 13 points for Cal Poly (12-11, 7-4), which remained deadlocked for second place in the Big West Conference standings with Cal State Northridge (10-14, 7-4). Cal Poly, enjoying the program's lengthiest winning streak since the 2006-07 Mustangs entered the Big West Tournament championship game with eight-successive victories, limited UC Irvine (10-15, 3-8) to a 28.6 percent mark from three-point range.
The Mustangs, who totaled 13 assists against just seven turnovers and recorded a season high for points, improved above a .500 winning percentage for the first time since defeating Seattle in the season opener.
The Anteaters sunk the first three three-pointers they attempted against Cal Poly, which entered the matchup leading all Division I programs with a 26.8 percent three-point defensive mark. Love and Lewis, however, followed with a pair of three-pointers apiece during the ensuing minutes to turn Cal Poly's original seven-point deficit into a 15-13 advantage 12 prior to halftime.
After draining their initial three three-pointers, the Anteaters missed the ensuing six and, overall, finished the first half 5-for-16 from the floor. Keyed by Lewis, who scored 15 first-half points, Cal Poly increased its lead to 34-25 with three-and-a-half minutes to play. Cal Poly, however, failed to sustain the momentum and, after yielding a 7-0 run to UC Irvine during a two-minute stretch, led just 36-35 at the break.
A pair of free throws by UC Irvine sophomore guard Mike Wilder 85 seconds into the second half helped the Anteaters deadlock the matchup at 38-38. Having completed their comeback, the hosts then proceeded to score 13 of the ensuing 19 points to grab a 51-44 advantage.
Held scoreless during the first half for the first time this season and with his side facing its deepest deficit since the opening minutes, Hanson (right) responded with three three-pointers – the last of which delivered Cal Poly a 53-52 lead with nine minutes, five seconds to play. The Mustangs trailed twice more and never by more than a single point with a Love three-point play pushing Cal Poly into a 62-58 advantage.
Lewis sunk consecutive layups moments later as Cal Poly pulled away down the stretch.
Donahue and Hanson each added a team-high three assists for Cal Poly, which opens its final homestand of the season versus UC Riverside on Saturday, Feb. 12. Tip time inside Mott Gym is scheduled for 7 p.m.