SAN LUIS OBISPO – Senior guard Donovan Fields (above) led all players with 19 points, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program – after rallying early in the second half to tie Wednesday's Big West Conference opener at UC Santa Barbara – ultimately dropped a 65-56 decision inside The Thunderdome.
Senior guard Marcellus Garrick added nine points for Cal Poly (4-10, 0-1), which trailed UC Santa Barbara (12-3, 1-0) by eight points at halftime before a Fields three-pointer tied Wednesday's matchup at 46-46 with 10 minutes to play. The Gauchos, however, curtailed the comeback with an 8-0, two-minute run.
Fields added a season high eight assists.
Cal Poly opens its eight-game Big West home schedule inside Mott Athletics Center when hosting CSUN on Saturday, Jan. 12. Tip time is 7 p.m.
During Wednesday's matchup, the Gauchos knocked down their opening three three-point attempts to take an 11-5 lead after just three minutes. Cal Poly, which enjoyed a 4-for-5 shooting start from the floor, closed the gap to 13-10 after Fields completed a three-point play. The Gauchos, however, held Cal Poly scoreless for an ensuing five-minute stretch and increased their lead to 20-10 with 12 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Still trailing 26-16 six minutes before the break, Cal Poly received back-to-back three-pointers from Fields and Niziol and, as part of an 11-2 run, closed the deficit to 28-27.
Despite holding UC Santa Barbara to just two field goals during the final six minutes of the opening half, Cal Poly still trailed at halftime, 35-27.
Jumpers from Hollingsworth and Fields out of halftime brought the Mustangs to a 35-31 deficit. A banked three-pointer and dunk by freshman forward Daxton Carr then shortened Cal Poly's gap to 43-41 with 14 minutes to go before Fields ultimately tied the matchup at 46-46 on a three-pointer with nine-and-a-half minutes to play.
The Gauchos, however, responded with their 8-0, two-minute run to go up 54-46. Niziol quenched Cal Poly's drought with his second three-pointer of the evening, but Cal Poly produced just three field goals during the final six minutes to slip to a double-digit deficit down the stretch.