Gabe Stephenson blocked a UC Irvine shot with seven seconds left and Trae Clark made two free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining to clinch Cal Poly’s 61-58 victory over UC Irvine in a regionally televised Big West Conference men’s basketball game Saturday night at Bren Events Center.
Clark came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points while Derek Stockalper added 11 points and Dawin Whiten 10 as the Mustangs, who lost to UC Irvine on a last-second three-pointer Jan. 7, improved to 7-14 overall and 5-4 in conference games.
UC Irvine, led by Shamir Armstrong with a career-high 16 points off the bench and Aaron Fitzgerald with 13, fell to 13-11 and 9-3. The Anteaters have lost three of their last four games.
Senior guard Ross Schraeder, who entered the game as UC Irvine’s leading scorer with a 13.2 average, was held scoreless for the first time in 63 games, dating back to a loss at Idaho on Jan. 31, 2004, his sophomore season.
Neither team led by more than six points in the game, The score was tied five times and the lead changed hands 12 times.
Joe Henry’s three-point play with 4:38 left gave the Mustangs a 55-50 lead, but UC Irvine scored seven consecutive points capped by Adam Metelski’s layup for a 57-55 advantage with 1:38 to go.
The game was tied for the final time at 57-57 with 1:14 to play on Clark’s jumper. Darren Fells made one of two free throws with 52 seconds left to give UC Irvine a 58-57 lead, but Clark made another jumper with 40 seconds left and iced the win with two free throws, scoring Cal Poly’s final six points of the game.
The Mustangs made 45 percent of its floor shots (22 of 49) while holding UC Irvine to 43 percent (20 of 47) and Cal Poly outrebounded the Anteaters 32-29, led by Stockalper with seven. Each team committed 16 personal fouls and Cal Poly recorded just 10 turnovers, one more than UC Irvine.
The Mustangs led 30-26 at halftime.
Cal Poly remains on the road for two games next week, visiting UC Santa Barbara on Wednnesday at 7 p.m. and Saint Mary’s for a non-conference ESPN Bracket Buster contest Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Moraga.