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Cal Poly Men's Basketball Falls to UC Santa Barbara 50-45

Cal Poly Men's Basketball Falls to UC Santa Barbara 50-45

POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO | BRIAN BENNETT | DAVID NWABA

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Guard Gabe Vincent scored 15 points and center Alan Williams grabbed 15 rebounds as UC Santa Barbara rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Cal Poly 50-45 in a Big West Conference men's basketball game Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 3,032 in the Mott Athletics Center.

The Gauchos (8-7, 1-0 Big West) won despite sinking just 37 percent of their floor shots, turning the ball over eight more times than the Mustangs and outrebounded by one.

Cal Poly (8-6, 1-1 Big West), which had a three-game winning streak snapped, all on the road, connected on just 23 percent of its floor shots (four of 22 from long range), its lowest of the season, in its first home game since Dec. 6.

Junior forward Joel Awich led the Mustangs with 14 points, tying his career high, while Brian Bennett (pictured at right), also a junior forward, produced his second career double-double with 10 points, his ninth double-digit scoring game of the season, and 10 rebounds. His other double-double was in his first collegiate game Nov. 9, 2012 at Texas Christian.

Though Cal Poly made just 26 percent of its floor shots in the first half, the Mustangs led most of the way, building a six-point lead at 20-14 before settling for a 23-20 cushion at the break.

Cal Poly continued to build its advantage in the second half, leading by 10 points on three occasions. The Mustangs opened up a 40-30 cushion with 7:24 to play on a layup by Bennett.

UC Santa Barbara, however, went on a 13-0 run over the next five minutes and 20 seconds, grabbing a 43-40 lead on a three-pointer by Vincent with 2:04 to go.

Junior wing David Nwaba hit a jumper with 1:42 to play, closing the gap to 43-42, but it was as close as Cal Poly would get the rest of the way as the Gauchos made four of six free throws and guard Michael Bryson hit a three-pointer.

Williams, averaging 17.9 points and 12.1 rebounds a contest, was held to just nine points and picked up four fouls in the first six minutes, 20 seconds of the second half, but played the last 9:34 without a foul for the Gauchos.

Cal Poly outrebounded the Gauchos 43-42, including 20 boards on the offensive end. UC Santa Barbara did not have an offensive rebound in the first 15 minutes of the game and finished with 10.

Senior guard Maliik Love recorded five assists for Cal Poly while junior guard Reese Morgan and sophomore guard Ridge Shipley each contributed seven points and five rebounds.

The sellout crowd was the third in as many games between the Mustangs and Gauchos in the Mott Athletics Center.

Cal Poly, which had played seven consecutive games on the road over the last five weeks until Saturday's home contest, goes back out on the road next week for Big West games at Long Beach State on Thursday (ESPN3) and CSUN on Saturday.

Photo by Ray Ambler | RA Photos