POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Sophomore forward Chris Eversley (above) scored a game-high 18 points, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program's efforts to close a late gap during the dying seconds fell short as the Mustangs dropped a 69-66 decision versus CSU Bakersfield inside the Icardo Center on Saturday evening.
Senior forward David Hanson added 14 points for Cal Poly (13-11), which trailed by six with 41 seconds remaining before Mustang junior guard Dylan Royer sank the third of his four three-pointers. CSU Bakersfield junior guard Stephon Carter missed both free throw attempts during the next possession, but, with a chance to tie the game, the Mustangs turned the ball over.
At the other end of the floor, CSU Bakersfield junior guard Issiah Grayson sank both of his free throw attempts before Royer dropped another three-pointer to cut the Roadrunner advantage to 68-66 with 10 seconds to play. Back at the free throw line following a Mustang foul with four seconds on the clock, Carter converted just one of two attempts, but Mustang senior point guard Amaurys Fermin's effort from half court fell short as time expired.
Cal Poly returns to the central coast to host UC Riverside on Thursday, Feb. 9 and UC Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 11. Both matchups tip at 7 p.m. in Mott Gym.
Held without a field goal for the opening four-and-a-half minutes, the Mustangs suffered an early 11-1 setback after Carter opened Saturday's matchup by converting a three-point play and sinking a three-pointer. Through three-pointers from Royer, Eversley and junior guard Drake U'u, however, the Mustangs quickly recovered, utilizing a 15-6 run to close their deficit to a solitary point with 11 minutes to play in the first half.
Cal Poly, 6-for-8 from the three-point line to begin the game, eventually grabbed its first lead of the night at 21-20 through a three from sophomore guard Kyle Odister. U'u followed with his second three of the night moments later to pump the Mustang lead to 26-22, but Cal Poly followed its sharpshooting with a 0-for-7 performance from the floor during the ensuing five-minute span. CSU Bakersfield, meanwhile, responded with a 12-0 run during the stretch to reclaim a 33-26 advantage.
Eversley produced a three-point play and a tip-in shortly before halftime to slice Cal Poly's gap to two points, but the Mustangs still trailed at the break, 37-33.
Cal Poly answered the second-half bell by holding CSU Bakersfield to a 3-for-10 start from the floor and, powered by five early points from Eversley, the Mustangs leapt out to a 47-43 lead after six minutes. Once again, however, the Mustangs followed feast with famine and missed four of their next five shots in allowing a 9-0 CSU Bakersfield run.
The Roadrunners inched to a 60-52 lead with six minutes to play before Hanson spurred Cal Poly's comeback by draining a three-pointer from the left corner. A free throw from senior center Will Donahue and two from Hanson followed as Cal Poly closed to a 60-58 deficit with two-and-a-half minutes to play.
An Eversley layup 30 seconds later again cut Cal Poly's deficit to two points, but the Mustangs proved unsuccessful in bridging the gap.
Fermin distributed a team-leading five assists for Cal Poly.