The Cal Poly men’s basketball team won 72-66 against CSU East Bay, a NCAA Division II school, in an exhibition game held in Mott Athletics Center Thursday, Nov. 2.
The Mustangs came out on top with an eight-point victory, but the Pioneers kept the score close until late in the game. A series of fouls repeatedly sent the Mustangs to the line, where they put the game away.
Free throws and discipline played a key part in the Mustangs’ success. The team made 29 free throws on 40 attempts and held the Pioneers to just eight free throws on 14 attempts.
The Pioneers outshot the Mustangs from the floor, making more three-pointers and more field goals overall.
“It’s very hard to play a loose game when you’re playing in that environment that’s supposed to win,” head coach Joe Callero said.
The Mustangs struggled to defend the perimeter all night. The Pioneers took advantage of that, scoring more than half their points from beyond the three-point line.
Callero said the Pioneers made some three-point shots because they played well on offense, but more often East Bay made shots from deep because the Mustangs made mistakes on defense.
“I think our defense was really below average,” Callero said. “Offensively, we have spent twice as much time on our offense as we have our defense and that kind of showed tonight a little bit. I thought our defensive breakdowns, concentration just wasn’t there, so guess what we’re doing tomorrow? More defensive execution.”
Junior guard Marcellus Garrick, who transferred into Cal Poly this year, not only played his first game with the team but came off the bench and led them in scoring with 18 points.
“Everything was clicking and I’m glad we won,” Garrick said. “I was so nervous coming in. I’m not even going to lie. Once I realized it was just basketball, this is what I do. It’s what we do.”
Junior point guard Donovan Fields also provided a key effort playing 37 minutes of the 40-minute game.
“Coach told me I might have that responsibility this year of playing that amount of time, so I had to make sure I prepared my body for that,” Fields said.
Going into the regular season, it will be important for the Mustangs to play at a high level all game. Their first games are on the road against PAC-12 powerhouses Stanford Nov. 10 and UC Berkeley Nov. 12.
“You’re not going to pull that upset without knocking down some big shots,” Callero said. “We look forward to this. It’s a tremendous thing to have two nationally televised games to start the year off.”