TUCSON, Ariz. – Senior guard Kyle Odister (right) hit a career-best seven three-pointers to finish with a game-high 21 points and lead three Mustangs in double-digit scoring figures, but the Cal Poly men's basketball team – despite trailing by three at halftime – allowed a 61.1 percent second-half shooting mark to the Wildcats and dropped a 73-62 season-opening decision inside the McKale Center on Friday evening.
Senior forward Chris Eversley scored 17 points and sophomore wing Dave Nwaba added 12 on his Mustang debut as Cal Poly (0-1), playing the highest ranked opponent in program history, buried 11 three-pointers. Arizona (1-0), however, steadily turned Cal Poly's three-point halftime deficit into double-digits and fended off the Mustangs in the nationally-televised Pac-12 Network matchup.
Nwaba provided Cal Poly a quick spark with four early points, but the Wildcats – keyed by a putback and dunk from freshman forward Aaron Gordon – ran out to an early 11-4 advantage. Sharp three-point shooting, however, brought Cal Poly right back into the game. Eversley opened Cal Poly's run by connecting from the right wing and Odister – who finished one three-pointer shy of the Cal Poly single-game record – connected on three of four possessions to cut Arizona's lead to 17-16. On the ensuing possession, junior wing Michael Bolden drilled his first three-pointer as a Mustang to provide Cal Poly its first lead of the night 12 minutes before the break.
The Mustangs were held scoreless for the ensuing seven minutes, but stayed within distance of the Wildcats thanks in part to Arizona's 44.4 percent first-half mark from the free throw line.
Trailing by seven with six minutes left in the half, Nwaba got the Mustangs jumpstarted with four successive free throws before forcing a steal and ramming a dunk through the rim to slice Cal Poly's deficit to 26-25 with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first. Eversley then hit Cal Poly's sixth three-pointer of the half 46 seconds before the break as Arizona clung to a 37-34 lead at intermission.
Eversley opened the second half with a jumper to bring Cal Poly's deficit down to one, but Arizona steadily compiled a 14-6 run to go up 51-42 following a free throw from freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Another Eversley three-pointer brought Cal Poly to within six, but that was as far as the Mustangs climbed the remainder of the evening.
Photo by Elizabeth Stowe / Arizona Athletics