SOUTHAMPTON, England – Sophomore guard Junior Ballard scored a team high 20 points, but despite the Cal Poly men's basketball program overturning a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit, the Mustangs closed their 2019 London Tour with a 93-90 overtime loss to Team Solent Kestrels Saturday evening inside the Solent Sports Complex.
Graduate guard Malek Harwell added 14 points for Cal Poly, which trailed Solent Kestrels – who compete in the second-tier National League Division 1 – 78-68 with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Cal Poly, however, closed regulation with a 12-2 run culminated by a Ballard free throw with two seconds to play that tied the matchup, 80-80.
The Mustangs twice stretched their overtime lead to three points but, with Cal Poly up 90-89 and 13 seconds left, Solent Kestrels guard Travis Charles knocked down a jumper in the lane to provide his side the advantage.
During the ensuing possession, Mustang senior guard Job Alexander was whistled for a charge driving down the right side of the lane for the potential game-winning layup.
With Cal Poly forced to foul to regain possession, Solent Kestrels forward Elliot Sentence knocked down two free throws to provide the final margin of victory.
The Mustangs completed their London Tour with a 2-2 mark after posting an 81-69 victory at British Basketball League side Surrey Scorchers (Sept. 3) before topping Barking Abbey Basketball Academy – who compete alongside Solent Kestrels in National League Division 1 – 75-61 (Sept. 4). Cal Poly's other defeat was an 89-71 defeat to defending British Basketball League and BBL Cup champions London Lions (Sept. 6).
In a matchup that featured three lead changes and four tied scorelines inside the opening five-and-a-half minutes, Harwell scored nine of Cal Poly's first 12 points, but the Mustangs found themselves trailing, 17-12, midway through the initial quarter.
Solent Kestrels took a 27-22 lead into the second period and it required an 8-2 run by the Mustangs to transform the deficit into a 30-29 advantage with seven minutes remaining. Solent Kestrels, however, held Cal Poly to just one field goal the remainder of the period and took a 44-38 lead into the break.
Solent Kestrels then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to increase the lead to 53-42 with six-and-a-half minutes remaining. Still facing a 60-47 disadvantage with three minutes to go, however, Cal Poly got a three-pointer and jumper from Ballard either side of a Smith layup to shorten the gap to 60-54. Eventually closing the third period with a 10-2 run, Cal Poly received a Smith three-pointer at the buzzer to shorten the Solent Kestrels lead to 62-57.
Solent Kestrels opened the fourth by running the lead back to double digits before Cal Poly's rally forced overtime.