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Second-Half Nevada Surge Sends Cal Poly to Defeat in Season Opener

Second-Half Nevada Surge Sends Cal Poly to Defeat in Season Opener

RENO, Nev. – Junior guard Reese Morgan scored a team-leading 13 points, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program – after leading by one at halftime versus Nevada – was outscored by 17 points in the second half and dropped a 65-49 season-opening decision to the Wolf Pack inside Lawlor Events Center on Saturday afternoon.

Junior wing David Nwaba added 11 points and senior guard Maliik Love set new career highs with a team-leading eight rebounds and a game-best six assists, but the Mustangs (1-0) conceded a 50.0 (15-for-30) percent field goal mark to Nevada (1-0) in the second half while shooting just 25.0 (7-for-28) percent themselves.

Cal Poly, which finished fifth among NCAA Division I programs last year in fewest turnovers per game (8.9), committed just four Saturday and only one in the first half.

Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center to open its 11-game home schedule against San Francisco State on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

The Mustangs opened the matchup by limiting Nevada to a 25.0 (3-for-12) percent shooting start from the floor and, aided by a three-pointer and dunk from junior Joel Awich and two layups from fellow forward Brian Bennett, Cal Poly led 16-8 after 11 minutes.

Nevada, however, answered by hitting its next two jumpers and four free throws and, with an 8-0 run over a two-minute span, tied the matchup at 16-16 with eight minutes before the break.

A three-pointer by guard Michael Perez moments later handed Nevada its first lead of the day at 19-16, but jumpers from Bennett and Nwaba swung the advantage back in Cal Poly's direction.

Neither side, however, led by more than three points the remainder of the half as Cal Poly – which limited Nevada to a 30.8 (8-for-26) percent field goal mark over the first 20 minutes – took a 27-26 lead into the break.

The Wolf Pack opened the second half by hitting their first four shot attempts from the field to produce a 34-28 lead with 17 minutes to play.

A Love layup stemmed Cal Poly's slide, but Nevada – which held the Mustangs without a field goal for the next four minutes and opened the second half by shooting 75.0 (9-for-12) percent from the floor – hit back with an 11-2 run to go up 45-32.

Backboned by Morgan, who sank two three-pointers, a layup and a free throw during a three-minute span, Cal Poly twice pulled to a pair of eight-point deficits with the second coming with 10 minutes to play.

Nevada though, quickly reaffirmed its double-digit lead through a free throw and layup from guard D.J. Fenner and Cal Poly closed to within nine points of the Wolf Pack advantage just twice the remainder of the night.

Bennett added nine points and six rebounds for Cal Poly while Morgan chipped in seven boards.