After suffering their second worst defeat of the season the last time the Mustangs faced the Matadors, Cal Poly came determined Wednesday night to defend their second place standing in the Big West Conference.
Despite having the opportunity to contest the Mustangs for second place, Northridge didn’t come prepared to handle what Cal Poly had in store for them.
The Mustangs (14-11, 9-4 Big West) defeated Northridge (10-16, 7-6 Big West) 72-49, in Cal Poly’s largest margin of victory all season, and pushed the Matadors back into a three-way tie for third.
Head coach Joe Callero said the Mustangs early control and dominance throughout the game surprised even him.
“The way the team had been playing, I thought they were playing as well as we had,” Callero said. “They were on a three or four game win streak and had only lost one close game at home to Long Beach.”
Senior guard Shawn Lewis led all scorers with 20 points and 11 rebounds and finished 10 of 12 from the line. It was the 22nd time this season Lewis had scored in double-digits.
As he hit his last two free throws of the first half, Lewis became the 10th person in program history to tally 1,200 career points. By the end of the game, Lewis became the 9th leading scorer for Cal Poly with 1,208 career points.
Shawn said he is proud of the accomplishment, but right now he just wants to preserve the team’s win streak and carry it into the playoffs.
“That’s a great goal to achieve as long as we’re winning,” Lewis said. “But (winning) is more important to me now than having all those points. As long as we keep winning I’ll feel good about (my success).”
Offensively, Cal Poly began the first half slow, hitting just one field goal in the first five minutes of play. But Cal Poly’s defense proved unstoppable again, as the Mustangs held the Matadors to just two points in the first six and half minutes of play.
The Mustangs were able to shake off their early offensive slump, and, after starting one of six from the field and zero of three from beyond the arc, made their next 11 of 21 shots.
The team was able to build its lead early with repeated attacks at the baskets, scoring 14 points in the paint and making 15 of 16 from the free throw line in the first half.
With less than five seconds remaining, guard Maliik Love drained a 3-pointer to expand Cal Poly’s lead 42-18, its largest lead of the half.
Lewis led all players in the first half in scoring and rebounding with 12 points and seven boards, while forward David Hanson added 10 points and six rebounds.
Cal Poly’s pace didn’t slow down at the start of the second half, as it registered the first five points and expanded to a 19-point lead, its largest of the season.
The Mustangs out-rebounded the Matadors 49 to 24, holding them to three second-chance points. It was the Mustangs’ highest rebounding night of the season, and the largest difference in rebounding, in favor of the Mustangs, all season.
Their trademark 3-point defense was in full swing again as Cal Poly held Northridge to just 3 of 16 from beyond the arc and a field goal shooting percentage of 28.
The Mustangs will host Northern Arizona in the ESPN BracketBuster this Saturday at 7 p.m.
The game will be the last time the Mustangs play in Mott Gym before traveling to Long Beach State for their last conference game of the season, and then to Anaheim for the Big West Conference Tournament.
As the team’s only senior, Lewis will be honored for his accomplishments as a part of Senior Night. The game will be the last game of his college career in Mott Gym.