Junior guard Donovan Fields hit the go-ahead jumper with 12 seconds left in the game to finish with nine points. Trailing 65-68 with just more than a minute left, the Mustangs went on a 6-0 run to finish the game.
“Pretty much play the space, make a move, create for myself and get a good shot up and that’s a shot I practice every day and I’m glad I hit it tonight,” Fields said.
With the victory, the Mustangs (7-15) moved to 2-6 in the Big West Conference while UC Riverside (5-17) lost its 10th straight game and fell to 0-7 in Big West play. Head coach Joe Callero attributed their win to support from senior guard Victor Joseph.
“Victor Joseph, during the timeouts with two minutes and under, everybody’s like, ‘We have been there before, we work on this every day in practice,'” Callero said. “We got this and Vic’s a soft-spoken guy, but he said it with confidence that really helped the rest of the team.”
Joseph led all scorers with a game-high 22 points and tied a career high by sinking nine out of 11 free throws, including two clutch free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining to seal the victory. He produced his 18th double-digit scoring game for the Mustangs and his fourth game scoring 20 points or more.
“The confidence we have in each other, the confidence the coach has in us, and the confidence we have in coach; we go over those situations every day in practice,” Joseph said. “We just had to act like we had been here before.”
A healthy Hank Hollingsworth, sophomore forward, gave the Mustangs a much-needed boost on the boards and defensive end finishing with seven rebounds and a game-high four blocks.
This was the first time Cal Poly had a lead at halftime during Big West play. The Mustangs shot 52 percent from three-point range, sinking 11 of 21 shots while the Highlanders took 23 three-point shots but made only nine.
The Mustangs balanced offense committed just five turnovers, their second fewest amount this season. The Mustangs forced the Highlanders into nine turnovers, including three in the final minute to come back and win the game.
Cal Poly will take on Hawaii Saturday in Mott Athletics Center with tip-off at 7 p.m.