Mott Athletic Center erupted with noise Saturday, Dec. 8 after sophomore wing Mark Crowe banked an overtime three-pointer in the final second of the game to give the Cal Poly men’s basketball team an 80-78 victory over Bethune-Cookman.
The Mustangs (3-5) entered the match against the Wildcats (4-7), who are favored to finish first in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, after playing without a home game for 31 days. It was the second-ever meeting between the two programs, after the Mustangs’ 67-53 loss to them last year.
Both teams refused to back down, and the lead changed 14 times throughout the match. The biggest advantage the Mustangs held was only seven points midway through the first half, which was quickly extinguished in a 10-0 scoring drive by Bethune-Cookman. The back-and-forth scoring continued into overtime as neither team led by more than three points during the last five minutes.
Cal Poly struggled to capture offensive rebounds — totaling only 10, compared to the Wildcats’ 26. However, the Mustangs made up for it offensively by registering eight turnovers.
Led by senior point guard Donovan Fields, the Mustangs tallied a 46 percent success rate from the field goal range, scoring 29 of 63 attempts.
Fields, who had a team-high 28 points, shot 11 for 16 from the floor. The game was Fields’ fourth of the season with more than 20 points. Senior guard Marcellus Garrick put up 13 points for the Mustangs, followed by Crowe’s 10.
With just over a minute remaining in overtime, Bethune-Cookman led Cal Poly by a score of 73-76. What happened next will be remembered by the program for years to come. After a timeout by the Wildcats, senior forward Kuba Niziol scored a layup to bring the deficit to just one point. Junior forward Hank Hollingsworth followed up with a layup of his own to give Cal Poly the lead with 15 seconds left in the game. However, it was too much time for Bethune-Cookman, as Soufiyane Diakite found space and scored a layup with 4.2 seconds on the clock to bring the score to 77-78.
In the final possession of the game, Fields forced his way towards the opposition, spun past two defending players and found an open pass to Crowe on the right side of the court. Crowe’s quick reaction payed off, and his three-point shot banked off the board into the net at the buzzer to win the game 80-78.
“I’m just glad I could come through for my team,” Crowe said. “Don made an amazing find and I’m just glad I got the shot up before time ran out.”
For head coach Joe Callero, the win signified the team’s ability to overcome pressure, especially after such a long period playing away.
“I am so proud of this team” Callero said. “Resilience, resilience. We went on the road 31 days without a home game. I don’t think anyone understands how hard that is for student athletes. They never quit. They found a way, even at the very end.”
“I don’t think anyone understands how hard that is for student athletes. They never quit. They found a way, even at the very end.”
Following the win, Cal Poly will have a two-game road trip against Cal on Dec. 15 and CSU Bakersfield on Dec. 18.
While Callero hopes the team will take some momentum from the victory, he said there are areas that need to be improved against their next two opponents.
“I think what we’re looking for is to carry a little bit of momentum and a little more consistency,” Callero said. “Tonight we won at home because of defense and ball control. On the road we’ve got to have ball control, few turnovers, good defense, better rebounding and we’ve got to knock the perimeter shots down.”