It took four overtime periods for Cal Poly to eventually fall 105-101 against Cal State Fullerton Saturday, Feb. 15 inside Titan Gym. Junior forward Nolan Taylor scored a career-high 35 points while sophomore guard Junior Ballard added 27 points for the Mustangs (7-18, 4-7 Big West), who had four players finish in double-digit scoring.
The loss was Cal Poly’s longest game in program history since the Mustangs defeated CSUN 124-116 in quintuple overtime on Feb. 12, 1972. The first time the Mustangs and Titans met this season, Cal Poly took down Cal State Fullerton in a 101-100 overtime victory.
The Titans (10-16, 5-6 Big West) got off to an early 13-4 lead within the first five minutes of the opening half. Cal Poly responded with six straight points to cut the lead to 13-10. However, the Titans extended their lead to double-digits with an 8-1 run with 9:42 remaining in the half.
The Mustangs cut the lead yet again with a 10-1 run after a pair of free throws by Ballard brought the score to 22-21. Ballard hit a jump shot with three seconds remaining to close the half, but the Titans went into the break with a 35-32 advantage. The Mustangs failed to obtain a lead throughout the entirety of the first half.
The Mustangs took their first lead of the game early in the second half at 36-35 after graduate guard Jamal Smith made a jump shot. Back-and-forth play kept both teams close as the largest lead of the half was five points at 53-48. The Mustangs secured a 65-63 lead with 3:01 remaining in the game after two free throws from Taylor. However, Titans guard Austen Awosika sank two free throws with 27 seconds remaining to tie the game at 65-65.
The Mustangs missed their final three field goal attempts before a Ballard layup rebounded off the rim at the regulation buzzer. The game went into its first of four overtimes tied at 65-65.
Neither team led by more than two points in the first overtime period as both sides scored eight points each. Titan guard Brandon Kamga had an opportunity to win the game, but missed a jumper at the buzzer.
In the second overtime, the Titans led by three points on three separate occasions. However, freshman guard Colby Rogers hit a three-pointer with 1:19 remaining to tie the game at 80-80. Neither team could score on their ensuing possessions as Taylor missed a layup for Cal Poly and Titan players Davon Clare and Kamga both saw their shot attempts fall short.
The third overtime saw Cal State Fullerton lead by four points at 90-86 with 57 seconds remaining. However, Taylor made a layup with 43 seconds to cut the lead to 90-88. On the following possession, Taylor made two free throws to tie the game at 90-90 with 11 seconds remaining. A Ballard block on the Titans’ final possession sent the game into its fourth and final overtime.
The Titans led the entirety of the fourth overtime as their largest lead was five points at 98-93. Taylor cut the lead to 98-97 after a layup with 1:34 remaining. However, an Awosika jump shot combined with three Titan free throws to grant Cal State Fullerton a 103-98 lead with 13 seconds remaining.
A Ballard three-pointer kept the Mustangs in the game at 103-101 with 11 seconds on the clock. However, Titan guard Tory San Antonio made two free throws with eight seconds remaining to put the game away at 105-101.
Throughout the game, the Mustangs shot 44 percent from the floor while the Titans shot 44.6 percent. The greatest margin between the two teams was the number of free throws awarded to each side. The Titans shot 53 free throws, making 37, while the Mustangs shot 29-36 from the free-throw line (80.6 percent). Forty-eight of the Titan’s 53 free throw attempts came in the second half alone.
Cal Poly will kick off a three-game home stretch on Thursday, Feb. 20, hosting the UC Davis Aggies at 7 p.m.