Four different Mustangs posted double-digit scoring efforts for the Cal Poly men’s basketball team in their home opener Wednesday, defeating Holy Names University 76-47.
The 29-point rout of the Division II Hawks (1-1, 0-0) is the Mustangs’ (1-2, 0-0) first win of the season after falling to Pac-12 opponents Stanford and UC Berkeley in their first two games this season.
Neither team led by more than six points until the 10:23 mark in the first half. Junior guard Marcellus Garrick, who finished the night with 11 points, converted a four-point play after he was fouled while shooting a three-pointer to give the Mustangs a 10-point lead.
The play sparked a massive 27-9 run for the Mustangs to close out the first half, giving Cal Poly a 43-19 lead at halftime.
“We had to prove ourselves, man, we had to get this win,” Garrick said. “They’re a good team, but we were just so close with Cal, we were just like, ‘We gotta get this win for the fans, for us.’”
With their starters playing sparingly in the second half, the Mustangs continued to pour it on the Hawks, pushing their lead to 33 points with 3:11 to play.
The team’s strong interior defense, led by sophomore forward Hank Hollingsworth and his three blocks, held the Hawks’ offense to under 20 points in the paint.
Standing at 6 feet 10 inches, Hollingsworth was at least three inches taller than any player for the Hawks. The Mustangs’ big man used his imposing size to post his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“The last couple games playing those two Cal guys, two 7-footers, and then Reid Travis at Stanford, comparing it to that, when you go into it with the same mindset, maybe that’s where those rebounds came from,” Hollingsworth said.
Ten different players saw the floor for more than 10 minutes in the Mustangs’ win, giving the starting unit a much-needed rest after they played substantial minutes in their previous two games. Junior forward Jakub Niziol led a strong effort from the Mustangs’ second unit, posting a team-high 12 points, while the bench as a whole accounted for 37 of the team’s 76 points.
The Mustangs, who are now 37-1 against non-Division I opponents since moving to Division I in 1994, dominated the Hawks in almost every major statistical category, out-rebounding them 51 to 33 and out-shooting them 48 percent to 29 percent from the floor.
“The fact that we had 10 guys in double-figure minutes was critical,” Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said. “We’re coming off the road against Stanford and Cal, we gotta have a home game to break it up and hopefully be able to beat a team like them and get some rest.”
Next, the Mustangs travel to face the University of Santa Clara Saturday at 7 p.m. before heading to the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage next week.