Cal Poly Outduels Hawai’i in Overtime to Win Big West Opener, 61-57

Cal Poly Outduels Hawai’i in Overtime to Win Big West Opener, 61-57

POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO

HONOLULU, O'ahu – Junior forward Brian Bennett scored a season-high 20 points and junior guard Reese Morgan (right) added 17 – including the game-winning three-pointer with seven seconds to play in overtime – as the Cal Poly men's basketball program completed a seven-game road trip and opened its 19th season of Big West Conference action by edging Hawai'i inside the Stan Sheriff Center late Wednesday, 61-57

Junior forward Joel Awich matched a career high with nine rebounds and Bennett added eight for Cal Poly (8-5, 1-0), which trailed 47-42 with five minutes to play before holding Hawai'i to a solitary field goal the remainder of regulation. After Hawai'i junior guard Roderick Bobbitt committed a turnover going through the lane for a layup with six seconds left in regulation, Morgan missed a three-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer as the game went into overtime tied 51-51.

Playing their first overtime game in nearly two years, the Mustangs trailed 57-56 with 35 seconds remaining following a successful Bobbitt layup. However, Morgan – who missed his first six three-point attempts before finishing 3-for-5 from the arc – buried the game-winner from the right corner to place Cal Poly up 59-57.

On the ensuing possession, Morgan picked off a Bobbitt pass with three seconds on the clock and, after being fouled, buried two free throws to ice Cal Poly's third successive Big West-opening win.

Wednesday's victory marked Cal Poly's sixth win against Hawai'i in the previous seven matchups as well as the third triumph inside Stan Sheriff Center in four visits under sixth-year Mustang head coach Joe Callero.

Cal Poly, which finished 5-2 on its seven-game road trip that began Dec. 13, opens its eight-game Big West home schedule against Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Jan. 10. Tip time inside Mott Athletics Center is 7 p.m.

Hawai'i scored Wednesday's opening basket, but Cal Poly – fueled by a three-pointer and layup from senior guard Maliik Love – recorded the next six to leap into a 14-2 lead after just six minutes.

Held to a 1-for-9 shooting start, Hawai'i still found itself trailing 20-9 with seven minutes remaining in the half before three free throws from sophomore guard Aaron Valdes and a layup by Bobbitt brought the Warrior deficit to 20-14.

Cal Poly, which held Hawai'i to a 24.0 (6-for-25) percent field goal mark in the first half, received three Bennett layups during the final seven minutes of the half with a layup by sophomore guard Ridge Shipley with six seconds remaining placing the Mustangs up at the break, 30-23.

Bennett added three more field goals inside the opening six minutes of the second half as Cal Poly held Hawai'i to a 1-for-7 start to maintain a 38-29 lead with 14 minutes left.

Twice, however, Hawai'i moved within four points of Cal Poly's lead before a layup by sophomore forward Mike Thomas cut the Warrior deficit to 41-38 at the 10-minute mark. Two minutes later, the Warriors received a third Valdes three-pointer and a dunk to overtake the Mustangs at 43-42 with seven minutes to play.

Sophomore forward Stefan Jankovic and junior guard Quincy Smith then followed with jumpers to run Hawai'i's lead to 47-42 with five minutes left.

Held without a field goal for a nine-minute span, the Mustangs nevertheless received two free throws apiece from Bennett and Morgan to claw within one point of Hawai'i lead. Morgan then added a three-pointer to place Cal Poly up 49-47 with three minutes remaining in regulation.

A Valdes free throw and a three-pointer from sophomore guard Negus Webster-Chan on consecutive possessions then handed Hawai'i a two-point lead, but a Bennett layup with 76 to play tied the scoreline at 51-51.