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Mustang Men’s Basketball Comeback Falls Short at UC Riverside

LATEST VIDEO: HIGH FIVE W/ COACH CALLERO: PART IIII (CHRIS EVERSLEY)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Senior point guard Amaurys Fermin notched a game-high 13 points and sophomore forward Chris Eversley scored 11, but the Cal Poly men's basketball team's attempts to overturn a 15-point deficit midway through the second half came up short as the Mustangs ultimately dropped a 60-53 decision against UC Riverside inside the Student Recreation Center on Saturday evening.

Senior forward David Hanson added 10 points – his team-leading 13th double-digit scoring game of the year – for Cal Poly (11-7, 2-3), which utilized a pair of Fermin three-pointers to twice cut its deficit to three points during the final four minutes. However, after a three-point play from Eversley trimmed UC Riverside's advantage to 55-51 with 35 seconds remaining, the Highlanders (10-8, 4-1) – who solidified second place in the Big West Conference standings with the victory – iced the game by knocking down five free throws in six attempts. 

The Mustangs, who limited UC Riverside to a 22.2 percent mark from three-point range, return to the central coast to host Big West-leading Long Beach State inside Mott Gym on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Held scoreless for the opening three-and-a-half minutes of Saturday's matchup, the Mustangs quickly broke out of their early doldrums as Hanson and Fermin (above) each hit a pair of jumpers to provide Cal Poly a 10-4 advantage with 13 minutes remaining during the first half. The Highlanders responded with a 15-7 run during the ensuing nine minutes and after thrice tying the ballgame, took the lead at 19-17 following a dunk by senior guard Phil Martin. 

The Mustangs briefly regained their lead at 22-21 after junior guard Dylan Royer swished his only three-pointer of the evening with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the opening half. The Highlanders, however, held the Mustangs scoreless the remainder of the first half and took a 27-22 lead into the break.

A three-pointer from Fermin early during the second half cut Cal Poly's deficit to 28-25, but UC Riverside exploded with a 16-4 run during the ensuing seven-and-a-half minutes to snag a 44-29 lead with 11 minutes to play. 

Cal Poly responded to its largest deficit of the evening with a 7-0 run as sophomore guard Maliik Love slid a pair of layups through the rim and Eversley completed a three-point play to trim the Mustang deficit to single digits. Twice during the ensuing six minutes, Fermin nailed his three-pointers to slice Cal Poly's deficit to three points, but that would be as close as the Mustangs would come to overturning UC Riverside's advantage.

Senior forward Will Taylor added a game-high nine rebounds for Cal Poly.