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Cal Poly Rallies for Double-Overtime Win Over Long Beach State

Cal Poly Rallies for Double-Overtime Win Over Long Beach State

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Senior forward Brian Bennett scored 21 points off the bench and made the go-ahead free throw with 1:34 to go in the second overtime period as Cal Poly rallied for a 96-92 victory over Long Beach State in a Big West Conference men's basketball game Saturday night before another sellout crowd of 3,032 in the Mott Athletics Center.

Bennett's free throw gave Cal Poly a 92-91 lead. Senior forward Joel Awich made a basket from the key with 33 seconds to play and senior guard Reese Morgan iced the win with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds to go as Coach Joe Callero's Mustangs improved to 7-9 for the season and 1-2 in Big West games. Cal Poly had lost six of its last seven contests.

Long Beach State, which fell to 8-11 and 2-2, was led by sophomore guard Justin Bibbins with 21 points. The Mustangs had six double-digit scorers and Long Beach State countered with five.

Cal Poly scored the first basket of the game, a layup by junior forward Zach Gordon. Long Beach State senior guard A.J. Spencer scored two baskets and a free throw for a 5-2 lead and the 49ers never trailed again until the final moments of the game when Bennett hit the go-ahead free throw in the second overtime period.

Morgan sent the game into overtime with a three-pointer from the top of the key with 36 seconds to go, tying the game at 80-80. Awich forced the second overtime with a three-pointer of his own from the right corner of the key with 1:09 to play, knotting the score at 88-88.

Morgan and Josh Martin both tallied 14 points for Cal Poly while Awich added 12 points and Gordon and Taylor Sutlive 11 each.

Nick Faust and Roschon Prince each scored 15 points for Long Beach State. Travis Hammonds added 12 and Gabe Levin 11.

Cal Poly beat Long Beach State for only the third time in the last 13 meetings between the two schools. The Mustangs have beaten the 49ers in back-to-back seasons at home for the first time since 2004 and notched their first double-overtime win at home in their 21-year Division I history.

Cal Poly won a game when trailing at halftime for the first time this season (Long Beach State led 42-33 at the break) and the Mustangs won for the first time this season when shooting a lower percentage from the floor than their opponent.

Long Beach State made 47 percent of its floor shots (32 of 68), including nine of 25 from three-point range, while Cal Poly connected on 44 percent from the field (35 of 80) and was eight of 24 from long range.

Cal Poly outrebounded Long Beach State 49-41, led by Bennett with 12 and senior guard David Nwaba with 11. Levin and Prince each grabbed seven boards for the 49ers.

For Bennett, his 21 points and 12 rebounds represent the first double-double by a Mustang this season and the fourth of his career while his 21 points are a season personal high and the high for the team this year. His dozen boards are a high for Cal Poly as well this season.

Nwaba also contributed six assists while junior guard Ridge Shipley added five.

Cal Poly's last overtime game at home was on March 6, 2010, a 91-84 loss against UC Irvine. Its last double-overtime contest was on Jan. 19, 2013, at UC Santa Barbara, an 83-81 Gaucho victory.

Prior to Saturday's double-overtime game, Cal Poly's last multi-overtime game at home was a five-overtime 124-116 triumph over CSUN (then San Fernando Valley State) on Feb. 12, 1972.

The Mustangs trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half before putting together a 23-12 run to get back into the contest, tying the game at 61-61 with 9:30 to go on a three-pointer by Shipley.

Cal Poly returns to action Thursday at CSUN.

Photo above of Zach Gordon courtesy of Ray Ambler | RA Photos