GREELEY, Colo. – Senior forward Joel Awich scored a game high 18 points and junior guard Ridge Shipley knocked down five three-pointers to finish with 15 as the Cal Poly men's basketball program – which hit 15 three-pointers – captured the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational Regional Round championship with a 78-65 triumph versus UMBC Sunday afternoon inside Northern Colorado's Bank of Colorado Arena.
Awich added nine rebounds and sophomore guard Taylor Sutlive scored 11 points for Cal Poly (3-2), which overturned a 12-point deficit just eight minutes action by outscoring UMBC (1-4) 71-46 the remainder of the day. The Mustangs shot a season best 55.6 (15-for-27) percent from the three-point line. All 10 players who appeared for Cal Poly scored as the Mustangs reached the 70-point barrier for the fifth time in five games this year.
Facing UMBC for the first time in program history, Cal Poly outrebounded the Retrievers 39-28 and produced 20 assists.
Cal Poly, which received a career high eight assists from senior guard David Nwaba, opened the Maui Invitational Regional Round with a 73-64 semifinal Saturday victory versus Austin Peay.
Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center and opens a three-game home stand versus NAIA University of Antelope Valley on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. The home stand continues versus IPFW (Thursday, Dec. 3) and Fresno State (Saturday, Dec. 5).
Held to just two field goals and forced into five turnovers during the opening five minutes, Cal Poly found itself trailing 19-7 with 12 minutes to play in the first half after UMBC guard Joe Sherburne knocked down his opening three three-point attempts. As a team, UMBC opened shooting 7-for-10 from the floor.
Cal Poly, however, responded by holding UMBC to just two layups during a seven-minute span and, through a 15-4 run, the Mustangs shortened their deficit to 23-22 five minutes before the break.
Sherburne momentarily broke Cal Poly's run with a layup before Sutlive tied the matchup at 25-25 with a three-pointer with four minutes left.
Having overturned the double-digit deficit, Cal Poly then received a pair of three-pointers and a jumper from Awich down the stretch to lead 34-27 at the break.
After its strong shooting start, UMBC was held to a 23.5 (4-for-17) percent performance from the floor during the first-half's final 12 minutes.
Cal Poly continued its pace into the second half with Sutlive, Shipley and Awich each hitting three-pointers inside the opening two-and-a-half minutes to further the Mustang lead to 43-31.
UMBC closed within single digits of Cal Poly's lead just twice the rest of the game with a Sherburne layup cutting the Retriever gap to 45-36. Shipley, however, helped extinguish any chance of a UMBC comeback by knocking down three-pointers on consecutive possessions to provide Cal Poly a 51-36 cushion with 15 minutes to play.
The Mustangs still led 69-54 with six-and-half minutes left on the clock when a layup and four free throws by Retrievers guard Rodney Elliott brought UMBC within nine points of Cal Poly advantage. Sutlive, however, hit a jumper on the next possession to reaffirm Cal Poly's double-digit advantage.