The Cal Poly men’s basketball team outscored Hawai’i 50-29 in the second half to win their third conference game 78-64 Saturday night in Mott Athletics Center.
Hawai’i (13-8, 4-4 Big West) controlled the lead for almost the entire first half, taking a seven-point lead into halftime. The Mustangs opened the second half with a 16-2 run to take their first lead of the game.
After four more lead changes, Cal Poly finished the game outscoring Hawai’i 20-10.
The Warriors shot 48.3 percent from the field in the first half, including a 14-point performance from guard Sheriff Drammeh. The Mustangs allowed Drammeh to make four consecutive three-pointers to start the game but adjusted and contained him to just five points during the rest of the game.
As a result of the Warriors’ poor ball-handling and passing, Cal Poly forced 12 turnovers in the first half.
“High-tempo, [we were] probably going a little too fast, a little too anxious, that’s [our only] problem,” senior guard Donovan Fields said.
Although there were many unforced turnovers, head coach Joe Callero said Hawai’i’s aggressive defense also gave cause
“Half of it is their good defense,” Callero said. “They jump up on the on-ball screens and they try to trap you.”
Cal Poly was successful when they had possession of the ball, shooting 47 percent from the field. They made all five three-point attempts, with senior guard Victor Joseph and redshirt freshman forward Mark Crowe both hitting two apiece. The high shooting percentages helped the Mustangs hold the Warriors’ lead to just seven going into the second half.
Cal Poly continued to shoot well after the break, finding hot hands in forwards Luke Meikle and Jakub Niziol who both ended with 12 points. Niziol scored all of his points on four three-point shots, shooting 4-6 from beyond the arc.
Meikle was scoreless in the first half but caught on fire quickly with a three-pointer to start the second.
“I just looked to pump my shot more aggressively,” Meikle said. “The guards got me the ball in a good position in rhythm so I was able to put it up there.”
Cal Poly tallied 17 assists, their second-highest total of the season. Starting guards Fields and Joseph ended with a combined eight assists and three turnovers. Although they found a rhythm in the second half, Callero said he thinks they can do better.
“I think they could’ve had a couple more [assists] earlier on here or there, but they know that,” Callero said.
In addition to shooting a high percentage from the field, the Mustangs had 41 rebounds against the Warriors’ 24, the highest differential for Cal Poly this season.
Cal Poly is now seventh in the Big West Conference standings and will be on the road to play Cal State Fullerton Thursday, Feb. 8. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.