Senior forward Joel Awich led the Mustangs with 19 points and six rebounds against Austin Peay on Saturday night. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

The Cal Poly men’s basketball team opened up the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational Regional Round with a 73-64 victory over Austin Peay (0-4). The game, held at the University of Northern Colorado, marked the Mustangs’ first of two games at the tournament.

Senior forward Joel Awich led the Mustangs (2-2) on Saturday night with a career-high 19 points and six rebounds. Senior guard David Nwaba added 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Mustangs jumped out to a 34-32 halftime lead over the Governors in the teams’ first matchup since 1977. A back-and-forth first half saw several lead changes before Awich hit a three-pointer to give the Mustangs the lead three seconds before halftime.

Cal Poly’s defense held strong out of the locker room, and the Mustangs never trailed in the second half. They held Austin Peay’s Chris Horton, who scored 20 points in the first half, scoreless in the second and didn’t allow the Governors’ to score a field goal in the last 5:55 of play.

The Mustangs forced 16 turnovers and outscored the Governors 23-8 in points off turnovers in the game. Cal Poly’s bench also outscored the Austin Peay’s bench 29-14.

With the win, the Mustangs advance to the tournament championship game on Sunday against Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) at 11 a.m. The Mustangs, whose two losses on the season came at basketball powerhouses UNLV and UCLA, will look to extend their two-game winning streak over UMBC. The Retrievers (1-3) defeated host Northern Colorado 81-72 on Saturday for their first win of the season.

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