The Cal Poly men’s basketball team (10-17, 4-10 Big West Conference) suffered a heart-sinking 78-77 loss to Cal State Fullerton (10-17, 3-11 BWC) in its last home game of the season.
Trailing the Titans for more than 12 minutes in the first half, the Mustangs eventually turned it around and led 37-30 with only a minute to go in the first half.
However, the Titans put up another five points in the last minute, ending the half with the Mustangs leading by only two points.
The second half was almost a mirror image of the first. The Titans led for almost nineteen minutes, but the Mustangs took the lead back.
The Titans continued to put up a fight as they tied the game three times, but two free throws by freshman forward Josh Martin and a three-pointer by sophomore forward Luke Meikle gave the Mustangs a quick five-point lead.
Junior guard Tre Coggins gave the Titans the lead back on a clutch three-pointer with just under three minutes remaining.
With only 10 seconds left in the game, senior guard Reese Morgan came in clutch with yet another three-pointer to push the Titans to call for a last-second time out. Morgan made six 3-pointers on the night and finished with 22 points.
With only four seconds left, freshman guard Jaylen Shead made a desperation three-point shot to draw within on of the Titans. With the crowd loudly at its feet, the Mustangs tried to make a miracle happen, but senior forward Joel Awich missed a short jumper at the buzzer.
“I believe in every guy on the court, I believe that all of them could have scored,” senior guard David Nwaba said. “I was just hoping that shot went in. But I knew we had a good shot, and that’s what really counts.
Four Cal Poly seniors were honored before Thursday night’s game for outstanding performance throughout their career with the Mustangs. Nwaba, Morgan, guard Joel Awich and forward Brian Bennett were accompanied by family members on the court before the game to receive plaques in acknowledgement of all their hard work.
“It was special,” Morgan said. “It was nice to have (my family) out there.”
Morgan and Nwaba were top scorers in the game, with Morgan shooting 50 percent from the field. Nwaba made five field goals overall.
Head coach Joe Callero said that, even though the end of the season is approaching and his four seniors will graduate in the spring, it will be far from goodbye.
“They graduate, and they move on to different parts of their life, but we don’t lose them,” Callero said. “Your players never leave you, and you never leave them.”
The Mustangs move on to face UC Irvine at 8:30 p.m. on March 3. The game will air live on ESPN3.