SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- UC Irvine rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit, forced overtime with a three-pointer with one second left in regulation and outscored Cal Poly 15-9 in the extra session for a 78-72 victory in a Big West Conference men's basketball game Wednesday night in the Mott Athletics Center.
Junior guard Jaron Martin drilled a three-pointer from the left corner of the key off an assist from junior center Mamadou Ndiaye to send the game into overtime. Ndiaye scored five points and blocked three Mustang shots in the extra session as the Anteaters improved to 18-6 for the season and 7-1 in the Big West.
Ndiaye and junior guard Luke Nelson each scored 21 points for UC Irvine and senior forward Mike Best added 11.
Cal Poly, which fell to 8-13 and 2-6, was led in scoring by junior guard Ridge Shipley and sophomore guard Taylor Sutlive (pictured above), each with 11 points. Senior guards David Nwaba and Reese Morgan each tallied 10 points. For Nwaba, it was his team-leading 16th double-digit scoring game of the year.
Cal Poly went on an 18-2 run to build a 20-9 lead with nine minutes to go in the first half. The Mustangs led the rest of the first half until Best scored on a dunk at the buzzer for a 28-27 UC Irvine lead at the break.
The Anteaters continued the rally in the second half, leading by as many as 11 points before the Mustangs chipped away, finally taking a 60-58 advantage with 1:50 to go on a three-pointer by Sutlive. Best tied the game at 60-60 with two free throws with 45 seconds to go.
A jumper by senior forward Brian Bennett with 17 seconds to play and a free throw by Morgan with four seconds left gave Cal Poly a 63-60 cushion, but after a timeout, UC Irvine knotted the score at 63-63 when Ndiaye caught a half-court inbound pass and hit Martin for the three-pointer that forced overtime.
There were three ties and two lead changes in the extra period, UC Irvine finally gaining the upper hand by scoring the final eight points of the game as Cal Poly missed its final three shots.
Ndiaye scored a layup and free throw for a 73-72 Anteater lead with 36 seconds to play, Nelson hit two free throws with 22 seconds to go, Martin made one free throw with nine seconds left and Nelson made two more charity shots with two seconds to go.
Ndiaye finished with eight of UC Irvine's 13 blocked shots, one shy of Cal Poly's record by an opponent, and the 7-6 post player made seven of nine floor shots and seven of 10 free throws.
UC Irvine, sporting a pair of seven-footers, outrebounded Cal Poly 42-39, led by Best and Nelson with eight each. Freshman guard Jaylen Shead grabbed seven boards for the Mustangs.
UC Irvine made 47 percent of its floor shots for the game, sinking 26 of 55, including six of 13 from three-point range. Cal Poly was held to 36 percent efficiency and was 10 of 30 from long range.
Coach Joe Callero's Mustangs committed just two turnovers in the second half and overtime period combined for a total of 10 in 45 minutes of play. UC Irvine turned the ball over 17 times.
Shipley contributed four assists while Sutlive and redshirt freshman forward Josh Martin each recorded two steals for the Mustangs, who are 1-3 in conference games at home, losing the three contests, two in overtime, by a total of 13 points.
Cal Poly hosts Hawai'i on Saturday night at 7 with ESPNU to televise the game. The Rainbow Warriors (16-3, 5-1 Big West) play at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night.
Photo above of Taylor Sutlive courtesy of Alexander Bohlen