The Cal Poly men’s basketball team led UNLV at halftime on Friday night, but couldn’t hold on to win its first game of the season.
Led by senior guard David Nwaba, the Mustangs led 40-37 at halftime behind a stellar defensive performance. Cal Poly forced UNLV into 10 first-half turnovers and held the Runnin’ Rebels to a 10-percent first half three-point percentage.
However, the beginning of the second half marked a different story for the Mustangs. UNLV stormed out of halftime, mounting a 12-0 run on the Mustangs. The Runnin’ Rebels quickly extended their lead to 10 points.
Midway through the second half, the Runnin’ Rebels continued to pour it on the Mustangs, extending their lead to 13. The Mustangs trailed 62-49 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Mustangs, never ones to go down easy, found their stride and began to battle back. Cal Poly went on an 18-5 run in a seven-minute span to lock up the score at 67-67 in the last couple minutes.
UNLV found a way to go on a quick 5-0 scoring run and take a 72-67 lead before Nwaba brought the Mustangs within two after converting a three-point play.
With time expiring, the Mustangs started fouling. The Runnin’ Rebels converted their free throw opportunities and held the Mustangs to only a two-point basket. The Runnin’ Rebels came away with the 74-72 victory.
Nwaba led the Mustangs with 15 points and five rebounds. Senior guards Joel Awich and Reese Morgan added 15 points and 12 points, respectively.
The Mustangs’ defense forced 19 turnovers, leading to 26 points compared to only 14 turnovers committed by the Mustangs.
The game marked the beginning of a tough nonconference schedule for the Mustangs. Cal Poly travels to Los Angeles on Sunday to take on UCLA in Pauley Pavilion. The matchup marks the first time the Mustangs have faced UCLA since they knocked off the No. 8 Bruins on Nov. 26, 2012.