The Cal Poly men’s basketball team overcame multiple score deficits to pick up their first road win, 63-59, at Santa Clara University Saturday.
The game was close throughout and Santa Clara almost managed to tie the Mustangs in the closing seconds of the game, but a rapid sequence of plays put the game out of reach.
After several Cal Poly players denied a Santa Clara layup, junior point guard Donovan Fields snagged the rebound and hurled it down the court to junior guard Marcellus Garrick who dunked it to put the Mustangs up four.
“He leaped out and he was just open so I threw it up to him and let him do what he does,” Fields said.
Fields led the team, scoring 23 points. Sophomore forward Hank Hollingsworth posted a team-high six rebounds in addition to being a key presence on defense.
“We got this guy [Hollingsworth] in the paint, so it’s definitely a big help knowing I got him behind me,” Fields said.
Garrick turned in another solid performance for the Mustangs as he recorded 12 points and a steal off the bench.
The Mustangs’ early offensive struggles were part of the reason the game came down to the final seconds. Fields finally hit a 3-point shot five minutes into the game to make the score 6-3.
While the offense struggled early, the defense held strong and forced Santa Clara to fight for every point.
“We just took away the three, we said, ‘Forget it. If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to have to beat us inside,’” Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said.
At first, it seemed shooting was the problem for offense, with five players taking shots that rattled around the rim but never fell in. However, Callero said the key to success on offense was fixing the team’s turnover issues.
“In the first half we turned the ball over way too much,” Callero said. “In the second half, the last 11 minutes and 30 seconds, we didn’t turn the ball over at all, and that gives your team the chance to make a shot, get a play and we didn’t crumble when they made their run.”
The Mustangs play next at the GCI Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25.
“It feels really good [to pick up the first road win],” Hollingsworth said. “Heading out to Alaska we’ve got some away games, so it feels really good to get a win going into that.”