POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO | CHRIS EVERSLEY | ANTHONY SILVESTRI
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Junior forward Anthony Silvestri sank five three-pointers to finish with a career-high 17 points as the Cal Poly men's basketball program produced its first win inside UC Santa Barbara's Thunderdome in seven seasons by fending off a late Gaucho rally and departing with a 72-64 triumph.
Sophomore wing David Nwaba added 14 points and senior forward Chris Eversley scored 13 for Cal Poly (6-9, 2-0), which defeated Blue-Green and central coast rival UC Santa Barbara inside The Thunderdome for the first time since topping the Gauchos 71-61 on Jan. 20, 2007. The Mustangs, who also received 11 points from freshman guard Taylor Sutlive, snapped an eight-game road losing streak in starting Big West Conference play with successive wins for the second straight season.
In victory, the Mustangs shot 45.3 (24-for-53) percent from the floor, 61.1 (11-for-18) percent from the three-point line and sank five of six attempts from long distance in the second half. Cal Poly also committed a season-low three turnovers.
Cal Poly looks to match the program's best start to a Big West campaign when opening a two-game home stand inside the Mott Athletics Center against Cal State Northridge on Thursday, Jan. 16. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.
During a matchup that featured six lead changes inside the opening 13 minutes, UC Santa Barbara (9-5, 0-1) – which outrebounded Cal Poly 12-3 to open the contest – erased an early deficit with a 7-0 run to go up 13-8 midway through the first half.
The Mustangs, however, quickly and efficiently hit back from the arc as Silvestri (three) and Sutlive (one) combined to sink three-pointers on four successive possessions and transform Cal Poly's deficit into a 20-15 advantage with six-and-a-half minutes left in the half. Gaucho junior guard Zalmico Harmon stemmed Cal Poly's run with two free throws, but Silvestri and Sutlive both hammered another three-pointer moments later to stretch the Mustang lead to 26-17.
Up at the break, 28-24, Cal Poly opened its second half by receiving three-point plays from sophomore wing David Nwaba on successive possessions. Senior guard Kyle Odister followed with his only three-pointer of the night before Eversley and Nwaba landed layups to close a 10-2 run that upped Cal Poly's lead to 41-29 with 16 minutes to play.
The Gauchos failed to close to within fewer than nine points of the Mustang lead until two free throws from senior guard Kyle Boswell cut Cal Poly's advantage to 50-43 with eight minutes to play. UC Santa Barbara then forged a 13-3 run to reach to a 56-53 deficit with four minutes remaining.
Mustang sophomore forward Joel Awich hit two free throws on the ensuing possession and after Gaucho junior forward Alan Williams – who finished with 33 points – responded with a layup to once again bring UC Santa Barbara to within three points, Eversley hit a jumper and three-pointer on back-to-back possessions to help solidify Cal Poly's lead down the stretch.