Stephan Teodosescu [follow id = “steodosescu”] In a matchup that featured the Big West Conference’s highest scoring team against its lowest scoring, the Cal Poly men’s basketball team played a bit of role reversal against Hawaii on Thursday night. The Mustangs, using 50 percent shooting from the field and going 8 for 19 from beyond the arc, shut down a potent Warriors team as Cal Poly ran away with a 77-65 victory inside the Mott Athletics Center. Hawaii (11-4, 0-1 Big West) entered the matchup averaging a Big West-leading 82.0 points per game, while the Mustangs (5-9, 1-0) averaged just 64.9, but Cal Poly stepped on the accelerator early in the contest to halt its four-game losing streak. “I thought we had to play an ‘A’ game to beat the so-called No. 1 team in terms of preseason record on our home court,” head coach Joe Callero said. “I thought tonight we played an ‘A’ game.” It was the Mustangs’ first home game in nearly a month, but it was worth the wait for the Cal Poly faithful. After dropping its last four games in a tough non-conference schedule, a return to Mott provided Cal Poly a chance to showcase its home dominance under Callero. With the win, Cal Poly extended its 15-game conference home win streak and has now won 16 of its last 17 on its home floor. The Mustangs also preserved their current win streak against Hawaii as they pushed it to five games. “I would say that 70 percent of it was the atmosphere that we had,” senior forward Chris Eversley said. “Just the fans in general, there’s nothing like playing at home. We’ve been longing for this…We fed off that and it’s a testament to the fans and the work we put in this week to prepare for conference.” Eversley tied with sophomore wing David Nwaba for a game-high 17 points and dished out a career-high six assists. Senior guard Jamal Johnson scored a career-high 15 points while also producing six helpers. The Mustangs jumped out to an early 10-2 lead after Eversley earned a steal and followed with a dunk to open the game. Despite having the conference’s second-leading scorer in Christian Standhardinger, the Warriors never found a groove to close the gap. It was only Hawaii’s third game played on the mainland this season. “When you get to conference everyone’s 0-0,” Eversley said. “Teams come out here and you have to realize it’s a new start.” Nwaba put on a display with several highlight-worthy dunks including a put-back slam on forward Brian Bennett’s missed attempt with more than seven minutes left to seal the win. Nwaba and Hawaii’s Keith Shamburger had to be separated as tempers flared late in the game following a hard foul. It was simply the heat of conference play, according to Nwaba. “I try to just ignore it and keep playing and keep running hard,” Nwaba said. “But it does kind of build a little momentum trying to push them a little harder.” The Mustangs led by as much as 18 in the first half before Hawaii cut the lead to single digits to close out the period. But the Warriors couldn’t capitalize on their momentum in the second frame as Cal Poly pulled away. Cal Poly heads south on Saturday to take on rival UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos enter the game with a 9-4 overall record. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *