Frank Stranzl

The Dawin Whiten show came to town in the second half of the men’s basketball game on Saturday, leading the Mustangs to a 74-62 win over rival UC Santa Barbara.

Whiten scored 19 second-half points after a shaky first half to lead the Mustangs with 24 total.

“I got some good looks (in the first half),” Whiten said. “I was just trying to find a rhythm. I came out in the second half and my team was still looking for me.”

Whiten shot two-for-eight in the first half and one-for-four from three-point range, perhaps a little rusty after missing the team’s last game. But in the second half, the sophomore guard did what a good shooter is supposed to do: keep shooting. He finished the game nine-for-18 from the field and five-of-11 from beyond the three-point line.

As impressive as Whiten was, one stat that stood out perhaps even more to coach Kevin Bromley was the lack of turnovers

“We only turned the basketball over two times, which is amazing to me, because we have a young basketball team,” Bromley said.

The game went back and forth in its early stages. Cal Poly led most of the way up until the Gauchos retook the lead with 11:30 remaining in the second half.

But Whiten put the Mustangs ahead for good on Cal Poly’s next possession with one of his five three-pointers on the night, one short of a career high.

“We needed a win either way,” Whiten said. “It didn’t matter who we were playing, Santa Barbara or not, because we had lost a few games after we beat Fullerton and it looked like a fluke, but it wasn’t.”

The win gave Cal Poly (5-11, 3-2) its first home victory against a Division I opponent this season, and more importantly, puts the Mustangs into third place in the Big West, snapping a three-game losing streak.

“I think it’s a mental thing for this basketball team,” Bromley said. “Losing like we did to Irvine and then controlling the first half like we did against Long Beach, there’s always that, ‘I think we’re good,’ but it’s such a fine line. I think this win will help springboard us into our Thursday game against Pacific.”

The Gauchos (7-9, 1-4) drop to last place in the Big West. The win gave Cal Poly just its third win over the Gauchos since Feb. 22, 1998. Cal Poly trails in the series against UCSB 57-27 with just three wins in the last 17 games.

Cal Poly plays its next three games at home. Next up for the Mustangs is the University of the Pacific on Thursday, one of the pre-season favorites to win the conference. The Mustangs will also play Cal State Northridge on Saturday before concluding the home stand against UC Davis on Feb. 4.

“Those are key (home games) because it’s hard to win on the road,” Bromley said. “I know we did it at the start, but if you look across the board in the country, you can’t win college basketball games on the road on a regular diet. You’ve got to win your home games”

Big West notes

UC Irvine is the only undefeated team in the conference at 6-0. The next best team is Long Beach State at 4-2 and Cal Poly is close behind at 3-2.

With the loss, UCSB falls to last place in the conference at 1-4. They were picked to finish in the top half of the league in the pre-season media and coaches polls.

Cal State Fullerton, picked to finish on top of the conference by those same media and coaches polls, is currently 3-4 and in 5th after losing games over the weekend to Long Beach State and UC Irvine.

Cal Poly is the only team in the conference without a player in the top-10 in scoring. Derek Stockalper is 11th in the Big West averaging 12.9 point per game.

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