After winning three straight games to grab the Big West’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, it would have been somewhat understandable if Cal Poly decided that it’s achievement was enough. But the Mustangs are playing their best basketball of the season, and on Wednesday night they continued that run with an 81-69 win over fellow Midwest Region No. 16 seed Texas Southern.
The reward for head coach Joe Callero’s team: a shot at No. 1 seed Wichita State (34-0) Friday in St. Louis.
Cal Poly used defense and the ability to control tempo to their advantage in Anaheim last weekend. On Wednesday the Mustangs put together their best offensive performance of the season, shooting 56.9% from the field and 6-for-15 from beyond the arc. Texas Southern, despite getting 38 points from SWAC Player of the Year Aaric Murray, had no answer for Cal Poly defensively and it cost them dearly.
Chris Eversley scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Cal Poly, which also scored 23 points off of 13 Texas Southern turnovers. With Eversley and David Nwaba (17 points) leading the way and reserves such as Brian Bennett and Ridge Shipley giving them good minutes, Cal Poly’s managed to get things clicking at the right time.
However asking this group to go beat Wichita State in a couple days is an entirely different animal, considering the fact that no 16-seed has ever defeated a one-seed. The season may likely come to an end for Cal Poly on Friday, but they deserve credit for the way in which they’ve played to reach that point.