POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO
EUGENE, Ore. – Sophomore forward Brian Bennett (right) scored a season-high 16 points and senior guard Jamal Johnson recorded a career-high 13 as the Cal Poly men's basketball program used a dominating first-half run to slide past North Dakota 70-43 on Friday afternoon in the opening game of the Oregon-hosted Global Sports Hardwood Challenge at Matthew Knight Arena.
Sophomore wing David Nwaba added 13 points and senior forward Chris Eversley grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for Cal Poly (2-3), which limited North Dakota (2-2) to 19 first-half points and held UND to a 23.4 (11-for-47) percent field goal mark. In the first and only matchup between the two sides since Dec. 5, 1984 and the 400th NCAA game presided over by fifth-year Mustang head coach Joe Callero, Cal Poly led wire-to-wire and shot a season-best 50.9 (28-for-55) percent from the floor.
Cal Poly continues Global Sports Hardwood Challenge action when facing former Big West Conference opponent Pacific (4-1) on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 12:30 p.m. Earlier Friday, the Tigers dropped an 85-62 decision against No. 14 Oregon.
In holding North Dakota to a 0-for-7 shooting start from the floor, Cal Poly sprinted to a 9-2 lead capped by a Johnson three-point play. A three-pointer from North Dakota senior forward Jaron Nash brought his side to an 11-7 deficit, but Cal Poly – fueled by seven Nwaba points – forged a 19-0 run during an eight-and-a-half-minute span to extend its advantage to 30-7 six minutes before the break.
Cal Poly, which led 35-19 at intermission, held North Dakota to just six first-half field goals.
Similar to the first half, Cal Poly opened the second with a 20-12 run to further increase its stranglehold on the game to 55-31 with 12 minutes to play. North Dakota, which shot just 51.5 (17-for-33) percent from the free throw line, failed to close to within 20 points of the Mustang lead at any stretch the remainder of the day.
Senior guard Kyle Odister chipped in with nine points for Cal Poly.