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Mustangs Seal No. 3 Seed for Big West Tournament with 62-60 Win

Mustangs Seal No. 3 Seed for Big West Tournament with 62-60 Win


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Senior guard Chris O'Brien (right) and junior forward Chris Eversley both finished with a team-leading 14 points on Saturday evening as the Cal Poly men's basketball program closed the 2012-13 regular season and its greatest year inside the Mott Athletics Center with a 62-60 triumph against Cal State Fullerton.

Eversley added a game-high seven rebounds for Cal Poly (17-12, 12-6), which was guaranteed the No. 3 seed for the 2013 Big West Conference Tournament entering play on Saturday and will face sixth-seeded UC Davis (14-16, 9-9) in a March 14 quarterfinal matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Tip time for the matchup, set to be televised on Fox PRIME TICKET, is 2:30 p.m. The winner advances to one of Friday's two semifinal matchups, both of which will air on ESPNU. The Big West Tournament championship game, with automatic qualification for the NCAA Tournament on the line, is set for Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

With Saturday's victory, Cal Poly set new program records for Big West victories (12) and Big West winning percentage (.667). The Mustangs also finished 13-1 inside the Mott Athletics Center this year to set new Division I program records for single season home wins, fewest home losses and home winning percentage (.929).

Cal Poly's five-game winning streak entering the Big West Tournament is its longest since winning six straight between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16, 2011 while Cal Poly furthered its home winning streak against Big West opponents to 14 games with Saturday's triumph.

During Saturday's matchup against Cal State Fullerton (14-17, 6-12) – which earned the No. 8 seed for the Big West Tournament and will face regular season conference champion Long Beach State on March 14 at 6 p.m. – Cal Poly broke a 55-55 deadlock with two minutes remaining through an O'Brien three-point play.

The Mustangs turned Titan senior guard Kwame Vaughn over on the next possession, but Eversley could only convert one of two free throw attempts after being fouled. Trailing 59-55 with a minute left, Cal State Fullerton cut its lead to two points through a layup from sophomore guard Alex Harris.

The next time down the court, however, Eversley shook off a defender near the top of the arc and drained a jumper as the shot clock wound down to reaffirm Cal Poly's four-point cushion with 14 seconds to play.

The Mustangs recovered a wayward Cal State Fullerton three-point attempt on the next possession and junior guard Jamal Johnson sunk one of two free throw attempts to ice Cal Poly's victory.

During a game in which neither side led by more than five points, Vaughn hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to confirm the final scoreline.

Johnson and freshman forward Brian Bennett both finished with eight points for Cal Poly.