Sophomore wing David Nwaba led Cal Poly with 14 points as the men’s basketball team beat Bethesda 78-39 inside the Mott Athletics Center on Saturday.
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Coming off three straight losses to open its season, the Cal Poly men’s basketball team snapped the slide against arguably its weakest opponent on an otherwise tough non-conference schedule.
The Mustangs used a career-high 14 points from sophomore wing David Nwaba as 12 different Cal Poly players scored in a 78-39 rout of Bethesda inside Mott Athletics Center on Saturday afternoon.
“We didn’t play too well in the Fresno game, so we knew we had to step it up a little bit and play more aggressive,” Nwaba said. “That’s what Coach talked about and I think we did that.”
Bethesda, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, is an Anaheim-based university in just its second year with a basketball program.
“Anybody who saw the game could tell we had the physical advantage,” head coach Joe Callero said. “We had them by two inches and 20 pounds at most of the positions. Our point is, well, we go into a lot of games and we’re in a physical disadvantage.”
Cal Poly’s sophomore forward Brian Bennett added 10 points and five rebounds while senior forward Chris Eversley poured in five points and grabbed eight boards for the Mustangs.
“I don’t think we’re going to get too many opportunities to see 12 guys score,” Callero said. “Getting eight would be a good number, or 10. I don’t see myself playing 12 guys on a regular basis.”
Cal Poly dropped its season-opener to then-No. 5 Arizona before losing its home-opener to Nevada and another to Fresno State this past week. But the Mustangs got into the win column on Saturday, marking their 13th victory in 14 previous contests at home.
“It’s always nice to get a win,” senior guard Jamal Johnson said. “It’s always nice to get a win at home. Seeing as we struggled at home last time it was nice to come out and get the win.”
Bethesda jumped out early with a layup from Daniel Chavez before several 3-pointers put the Flames up 10-7 with 14:42 to play in the first half. Cal Poly made a run to close out the first half, though, outscoring Bethesda 27-8 headed into the locker room.
The Mustangs picked up where they left off as Nwaba completed a 3-point play on their first possession of the second half. Using a 13-0 run sparked by junior forward Anthony Silvestri’s 3-pointer midway through the second half, Cal Poly went on to score 44 points in that closing frame.
“The second half was the first time that I thought that we really physically overwhelmed somebody,” Callero said. “We were more aggressive to the ball, more aggressive to the rebound and more aggressive handling the ball.”
Only three Cal Poly players played more than 20 minutes while 14 total saw action on the night. Highly-touted freshman guard Markel Leonard made his first collegiate appearance when he came in with 4:22 left in the game. He ended the night 0 for 1 shooting.
“We really feel that guards need to play,” Callero said of redshirting his backcourt players. “Bigs can afford to have that development year, but guards develop more by getting on the court.”
Cal Poly out-rebounded Bethesda 47-26 and shot 47 percent from the floor. The team also shot 50 percent in the second half.
Alex Reynolds led the Flames with nine points and four rebounds as Bethesda shot 28 percent from the field. Chavez added seven points on 3 of 6 shooting.
The Flames didn’t attempt a free throw, a feat that has never occurred in Callero’s five-year tenure at Cal Poly.
The Mustangs return to the floor Friday when they take on North Dakota in the opening round of the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge hosted by Oregon. Cal Poly will then play Pacific on Saturday and Oregon on Sunday in the later rounds of the tourney.