Just as the Sacramento State men’s basketball team continued to slash into a once comfortable Cal Poly lead late in the second half, the Mustangs converted two Hornet turnovers into baskets to pull out a 74-65 nonconference victory Tuesday night in Mott Gym.
The Hornets went on a 15-3 run to cut an 18-point Cal Poly lead down to five with 3 minutes, 9 seconds to play. The Mustangs answered with a 3-pointer from forward Tyler McGinn and stifling defense that led to two layups off turnovers to go ahead 69-56 with 1:42 to play.
Cal Poly’s zone defense seemed to frazzle the Hornets’ offense throughout the night as Sacramento State shot only 31.1 percent from the field and a dismal 18.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc on 27 attempts.
In contrast, the Mustangs shot 48.2 percent from the field and 40 percent on 3-pointers.
Forward Derek Stockalper had a game-high 12 rebounds to go with 17 points. He shot 70 percent from the field for the night.
“He’s been consistent and he’s playing good ball,” Cal Poly head coach Kevin Bromley said of Stockalper. “I like how confident he is. He’s just in a great rhythm right now and he’s going to the glass.”
McGinn contributed 17 points of his own, including five 3-pointers, and center Titus Shelton made timely plays in the post throughout the night to finish with 15 points and eight boards. Guard Trae Clark finished with 12 points.
Cal Poly (8-8) is at the .500 mark this late in the season for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign, which included early wins at Cal and USC.
But the Mustangs, who are 7-1 at home, face their next four games – three of which in conference – on the road, where they are 0-6 this season.
“You work hard and put yourself in a position to win and you get a couple,” Bromley said of capturing road victories. “Then it snowballs and you get greedy and you want more.”
With 10 of the next 11 games in conference, where the Mustangs are 1-3, Stockalper said he hoped the victory would “shot put us into some wins.”
Cal Poly started both halves strong, jumping out of the gate with a 13-0 run to take an early 18-6 lead, then a 10-2 run to begin the second half to pull ahead by 18.
In perhaps the only glaring Cal Poly weakness in the game, turnovers plagued the Mustangs throughout the night. They had 10 in the first half and finished the game with 17.
Sacramento State forward Alex Bausley led the Hornets (7-12, 2-4 Big Sky Conference) with 13 points and six rebounds.