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DAYTON, Ohio – Senior forward Chris Eversley scored a team-leading 19 points as the Cal Poly men's basketball program – appearing in its first NCAA Division I Tournament game – chalked up its first Division I postseason victory as the Mustangs outdueled fellow 16th seed Texas Southern on Wednesday evening, 81-69 at the First Four inside the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio.
Sophomore wing David Nwaba added 17 points for 16th-seeded Cal Poly (14-19), which advanced to face Midwest Regional No. 1 seed Wichita State (34-0) on Friday, March 21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Tip time is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PT (6:10 p.m. CT) with a national television broadcast on CBS. Streaming video of the contest will be available at ncaa.com/marchmadness while Tom Barket will have the play-by-play radio call on ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and online at GoPoly.com.
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams for the 1985 edition, no 16th seed has ever toppled a No. 1
In becoming the first Big West Conference program to win an NCAA Tournament game since eighth-seeded Pacific topped Pitt in the first round of the 2005 competition, Cal Poly shot a season-high 56.9 (29-for-51) percent from the floor.
Cal Poly, which qualified for its first NCAA Division I Tournament by winning three Big West Conference Tournament games in three days as the No. 7 seed, also received 10 points from sophomore forward Brian Bennett.
During the first matchup between the two programs, neither Cal Poly nor Texas Southern led by more than four points for the opening eight minutes. Cal Poly and Texas Southern traded the lead on five successive early possessions before a 9-2 Mustang run capped by a three-pointer from freshman guard Ridge Shipley put his side up 25-19 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
A three-pointer a minute later from Tigers guard Lawrence Johnson-Danner halved Cal Poly's lead, but the Mustangs responded with a 13-4 run during which five different players scored to further their advantage to 38-26 with four minutes left in the half.
The Mustangs, who shot 54.5 (18-for-33) percent from the floor during the first half, ended up taking a 44-32 lead into the locker room. The 44 points scored by Cal Poly marked the highest first-half total of the season.
Cal Poly's ascendancy continued into the second half with sophomore forward Joel Awich and senior guard Jamal Johnson scoring consecutive buckets to place the Mustangs up 48-32.
Keyed by a lay-up from Texas Southern guard Madarious Gibbs and fortified with eight points by center Aaric Murray – a 38-point scorer Wednesday and the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year selection – the Tigers climbed back into matters with an 11-4 run over a three-a-half minute span to pull to within 52-43.
Texas Southern, an automatic NCAA Tournament invitee after winning the March 12-15 SWAC Tournament championship, eventually clawed to a pair of eight-point deficits – the last coming with three-and-a-half to play – but got no further.
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