Senior forward Brian Bennett became the 22nd player in program history to reach 1,000 points as the Cal Poly men’s basketball team held off Cal State Fullerton for an 83-75 victory on Saturday night.
The Mustangs (8-10, 2-3 Big West Conference) played the Titans (8-10, 1-4) tight in a first half that featured six ties and held a narrow 37-35 lead at halftime.
Cal Poly came out firing in the second half. After two consecutive three-pointers by sophomore guard Taylor Sutlive and junior guard Ridge Shipley, the Mustangs extended their lead to 49-41 with just under 15 minutes to go in the game.
The Mustangs shot 60 percent from the field and limited the Titans to one field goal during the first seven minutes of the half. They led 53-43 with 13 minutes remaining.
However, the Titans scrapped back into the game — a theme repeated this season by the Mustangs’ opponents. Cal State Fullerton trailed by only two, 60-58, with six and a half minutes remaining before a three-pointer by senior guard Reese Morgan regained momentum for the Mustangs.
Cal Poly led by eight with 1:48 remaining before the Titans began fouling for the remainder of the game.
Morgan paced the Mustangs with 17 points on 2-7 shooting from the field and 11-for-12 shooting from the free-throw line. Senior guard David Nwaba and sophomore forward Luke Meikle added 13 points each and Shipley pitched in 12 points of his own.
The Mustangs, who are second in the conference in three-point shooting, shot 42 percent from beyond the arc while holding the Titans to 29 percent. Both teams shot 41 percent from the field.
Perhaps the Mustangs’ most impressive stat was their victory in the turnover category. The Mustangs created 13 turnovers but turned the ball over only twice, the fewest turnovers ever in head coach Joe Callero’s seven-year career at Cal Poly.
The Mustangs continue Big West play this Thursday, Jan. 28 in Mott Athletics Center against UC Riverside before traveling to UC Davis on Saturday.