POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO | CHRIS EVERSLEY
MORAGA, Calif. – Junior forward Chris Eversley (right) scored a career-high 25 points and freshman forward Brian Bennett added 10, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program allowed its highest opponent field goal percentage in 97 games on Saturday evening and dropped an 86-68 decision against Saint Mary's inside McKeon Pavilion.
Freshman guard Reese Morgan added a career-high nine points for the Mustangs (2-3), who yielded a 64.4 (29-for-45) percent field goal mark to Saint Mary's – Cal Poly's highest total since allowing Portland State to shoot 67.4 (31-for-46) percent on Nov. 21, 2009. Eversley also grabbed a game-high six rebounds for the Mustangs, who shot 52.1 (25-for-48) percent from the floor themselves, but failed to lead at any point in Saturday's matchup.
Morgan nailed the first of his three three-pointers eight-and-a-half minutes into the game to cut Cal Poly's early deficit to 17-12, but the Gaels – fueled by seven points from senior forward Mitchell Young – compiled a 16-7 run during the ensuing six minutes to increase their lead to 33-19.
Eversley, who scored 15 of Cal Poly's 35 first-half points, stemmed the Gael tide by banking home a jumper and junior guard Jamal Johnson followed with a three-pointer to cut the Gael lead to nine points with four minutes left in the half. Morgan, who had scored just five career points in four previous games entering Saturday's contest, hit two more three-pointers to close the half, but the Mustangs – despite shooting 60.0 (12-for-20) percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes – trailed at the break, 42-35.
Saint Mary's (5-2), which received eight votes in the Nov. 26 edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll, opened the second half by sinking four successive free throws to reaffirm its double-digit lead. After an Eversley tip-in once again cut Cal Poly's deficit to nine points, however, the Gaels reeled off an 11-4 run to reinforce their lead at 57-41 with 13 minutes to play.
The Mustangs whittled the Gael lead to 14 points on five occasions down the stretch, but closed no further.
Eversley's 25 points were the highest total by a Mustang since All-Big West Conference performer David Hanson hit the mark against Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 26, 2011.
The Mustangs return to action when hosting NAIA Menlo College on Saturday, Dec. 8. Tip time inside Mott Gym is scheduled for 7 p.m.