Cal Poly Closes NIU Thanksgiving Classic with 72-66 Loss to Elon


DeKALB, Ill. – Junior guard Victor Joseph (above) scored a career high 23 points, but the Cal Poly men's basketball team – after trailing for a majority of the second half – closed the Northern Illinois-hosted Thanksgiving Classic Saturday afternoon with a 72-66 loss to Elon.

Senior guard Ridge Shipley added 14 points for Cal Poly (3-4), which tied Saturday's matchup 57-57 with four-and-a-half minutes to play before being outscored 10-0 during the next three minutes.

Cal Poly committed just eight turnovers for the second successive game, but conceded a 51.1 (23-for-45) percent field goal mark to the Phoenix in the first meeting between the two programs.

Hailing from the eponymously-named town in North Carolina, Elon (5-1) was forced into 14 turnovers by Cal Poly, but outrebounded the Mustangs, 34-23.

Sophomore guard Jaylen Shead matched a career high with seven assists and led all players with eight rebounds for Cal Poly, which plays its final home games of the 2016 calendar year and final home games for 40 days inside Mott Athletics Center when facing UTSA on Thursday, Dec. 1 and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Cal Poly grabbed the last of the Saturday's four early lead changes at 11-8 through a three-pointer from junior forward Joseph followed with three-pointers on successive possessions with the baskets helping spur an eventual 22-9 run that handed Cal Poly a 28-17 lead with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first half.

Still trailing 30-21 six minutes before the break, Elon received a three-pointer and four-point play from guard Luke Eddy to close within two points of Cal Poly's lead.

Joseph, who scored 14 first-half points, stemmed Elon's run with a jumper and Shead followed with a layup. The Phoenix enjoyed a brief 35-34 lead after Eddy added his third three-pointer a minute prior to halftime, but Cal Poly took a 37-35 edge into the break after senior guard Ridge Shipley knocked down a three-pointer with 45 seconds to play.

A Shead layup and Shipley three-pointer to open the second half gave Cal Poly a 42-35 lead before Elon hit back with a 7-0, 97-second run to deadlock the matchup at 42-42.

With the matchup tied once more at 45-45 with 12 minutes to play, Cal Poly was held to just one field goal during a five-minute span and slipped to a 53-47 deficit.

A pair of Joseph three-pointers, a layup from senior forward Zach Gordon and two Shead free throws helped Cal Poly rally to the 57-57 scoreline. Elon, however, scored the next 10 points en route to victory.