Cal Poly men’s basketball defeated Pepperdine 91-81 at Mott Athletics Center Saturday as five different Mustangs scored in double figures.
The Mustangs (4-4, 0-0) earned the win over Pepperdine (2-6) after outscoring their bench 29-17 and winning the three-point battle 11-2.
Both teams started off the game cold as the match went scoreless for the first three minutes until senior forward Luke Meikle hit the first 3-pointer of the night. The teams traded points until Cal Poly went on an 8-0 run to go ahead 25-17 after back-to-back three-pointers from redshirt freshman wing Mark Crowe and junior guard Trevor John with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Pepperdine eventually brought the score within one after freshman guard Colbey Ross hit a pair of free throws, but Cal Poly’s junior guard Marcellus Garrick nailed a three-pointer before halftime to give the Mustangs a 37-34 lead at the break.
The Mustangs started the second half on a 9-2 run capped off by junior forward Jakob Niziol’s layup, bringing the score to 46-37. The Waves responded with a 17-6 run of their own after mixing up their defense in the second half and running a full-court press that forced several turnovers. This run allowed the Waves to take a 53-52 lead midway through the second half.
After several lead changes, Garrick hit another three-pointer to bring the score to 60-59 and give the Mustangs the lead for good with about eight minutes remaining in the game. Garrick later connected on back-to-back three pointers with two minutes remaining that helped increase the lead and ice the game. Garrick led the team in scoring with a career-high 20 points on the night.
Junior guard Donovan Fields also poured in 17 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals after playing all 40 minutes of regulation after senior guard Victor Joseph got in early foul trouble.
“In the offseason, I made sure my body was in shape and prepared for nights like this when I might have to play 40 minutes,” Fields said. “And I know the coaching staff and the team have the trust and faith in me to do so and that’s why I have to be ready every minute and every possession pretty much.”
Momentum plays down the stretch of the game were one of the main reasons the Mustangs were able to offset Pepperdine’s run and ultimately pull out the win. Head coach Joe Callero said he believes those kinds of plays fueled the team late in the game.
“You know when you’re fighting back and get a break sometimes when the ball bounces funny off someone’s head, arm or leg, and you get a fast break here or there,” Callero said. “That felt to me as a coach like one of those moments where you’re like, ‘Okay we had a lead, lost a lead, now we’re banking shots in, let’s go try and find a way to pull this one out and get home to the W.’”
While the Mustangs got the win, their next game will be no easy task as their opponent, Fresno State, is currently on a four-game win-streak.
“We got a big game against a great team coming in here next Saturday,” Callero said. “We needed to learn how to win, we need to get everyone healthy, we need all the ammunition.”