Senior forward Chris Eversley scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but the Cal Poly men’s basketball team fell to Nevada 60-58 on Tuesday.
Jefferson P. Nolan
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The slam dunk at the buzzer made by Nevada guard Deonte Burton did not count.
But even if it did, it wouldn’t have mattered.
In Cal Poly’s 60-58 loss to Nevada, Burton not only scored the game-winning basket, but his second-late dunk was salt on the wound for the Cal Poly men’s basketball team.
Though it made for a blood-pumping ending to a well-matched game, the last few seconds in Tuesday’s matchup in the Mott Athletics Center left the packed crowd silent.
With 17 seconds left on the clock, Cal Poly led the Wolf Pack 58-57.
But after Cal Poly inbounded the ball at the Nevada baseline, the ball was tipped, and a scramble on the floor led to a jump ball, giving the Wolf Pack possession.
The ball then found Burton and, fighting his way through Cal Poly defenders, the senior from Los Angeles, Calif. made a layup with 6.6 seconds left on the clock.
After sinking his shot at the foul line, Burton stole the ball from senior forward Chris Eversley, and he slammed it through the rim just after time expired.
“He’s a great player,” Eversley said. “We definitely did our job and forced him into some tough shots tonight. For the most part, and for most of the game, we built a wall for him. But great players make good plays at the end of the game.”
Burton finished the game with 22 points, and he made nine of his 19 attempted shots from the floor. Eversley led the Mustangs with 19 points.
“What I was most impressed from (Burton) was his approach and his emotional stamina,” head coach Joe Callero said. “He played over 39 minutes without a turnover. That type of player to be that aggressive and get 19 shots off and never turn the ball over is an amazing stat. My hat goes off to him and the team.”
The Mustangs went into halftime leading Nevada 32-23, but after the second half commenced, a lull seemed to sweep through the Mustangs’ bench.
“We just had a mental collapse,” senior guard Kyle Odister said. “We’re learning. We’re a young team, and it was a good learning experience for the whole team.”
Odister made a trio of 3-pointers and added a 11 points for the Mustangs.
In the first five minutes of the second half, the Mustangs held an 11-point lead on three different occasions. But Nevada’s deficit slowly diminished as Cal Poly proceeded to score only two points in the next 12 minutes of play.
“It was our stagnant offense,” Eversley said. “We just weren’t able to get the ball to the right guys in the right time. Down the stretch, we let our lead get to us. That’s something we need to fix. Our offense just has to be able to get better.”
After last week’s loss to No. 5 Arizona, Eversley led a young team into the Mott Athletics Center — where the team hadn’t lost in its last 12 home games.
“I just told (the newcomers on the team), ‘You’ve got your first-game jitters out. Even though this is your first home game, the noise in the crowd is going to be in your favor.’ Whether the crowd is negative or positive, you’ve got to be able to tune it out,” Eversley said.
But after the last few seconds wound down, the crowd proved to be silent enough.
“There were opportunities where I think we got too high or excited about being ahead and too disappointed about having a one-point lead with two minutes to go,” Callero said.“Chris (Eversley), Jamal (Johnson) and Kyle (Odiser) are really hurting tonight. They’re not finger pointing kind of guys. The practice is where you’ve got to create those habits that carryover into the game.”
Cal Poly will have eight days to create those habits before they travel to Fresno State on Wednesday, Nov. 20 for their third matchup of the 2013 campaign.