POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO | JOEL AWICH | REESE MORGAN
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Junior forward Joel Awich (right) hit a career-high four three-pointers to finish with a collegiate-best 19 points and junior guard Reese Morgan added a season-high 18 points as the Cal Poly men's basketball program trumped Long Beach State Saturday evening inside Mott Athletics Center, 71-58.
Sophomore guard Ridge Shipley added 14 points and junior forward Brian Bennett finished with 10 and a game-high nine rebounds for Cal Poly (12-11, 5-6), which shot 47.1 (24-for-51) percent from the floor and only trailed Long Beach State (13-14, 7-4) for 98 seconds. Cal Poly also shot 44.4 (12-for-27) percent from three-point range – its third highest mark of the year – in tying a season best for converted attempts.
The Big West Conference's top rebounding squad, Cal Poly outboarded Long Beach State, 40-23.
With Saturday's victory, Cal Poly retained sixth place in the Big West Conference standings alongside UC Riverside (12-13, 5-6) and remained one-and-a-half games behind fourth-place UC Santa Barbara (13-11, 6-4).
Cal Poly, which defeated Long Beach State for just the second time in the last 12 meetings between the two sides, opens its final road trip of the 2014-15 regular season at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
Holding a 15-9 lead eight minutes into action Saturday evening, Cal Poly – backboned by two Shipley three-pointers – cobbled together a 13-4 run to grab the first of two 14-point advantages in the first half. An Awich three-pointer – one of six Cal Poly sank in the first half – five minutes before the break stretched the Mustang lead to as much as 32-17.
Held to a 37.5 (9-for-24) percent field goal mark in the first half, Long Beach State, however, kept Cal Poly scoreless for the ensuing four minutes and closed its deficit to 32-29 a minute before halftime.
Up 36-32 at the break, Cal Poly limited Long Beach State to a single layup during the opening four minutes of the second half to reaffirm a double-digit lead.
Once again though, Long Beach successfully whittled down Cal Poly's lead. Trailing 44-36 with 16 minutes remaining, the 49ers held the Mustangs to just an Awich three-pointer during a seven-minute span and grabbed a brief 50-49 lead.
The Mustangs, however, roared back as Morgan hit three-pointers on successive possessions. Awich and Bennett followed with jumpers and Cal Poly built a 60-52 cushion with six minutes remaining.
The 49ers cut Cal Poly's lead to five points just once the remainder of the night.
Photo courtesy of Ray Ambler