In the first half of their game against Northeastern at the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, California on Wednesday, the Cal Poly Mustangs struggled on both ends of the floor. Joe Callero’s Mustangs shot just 8-for-29 from the field, scoring 17 points with Northeastern’s Scott Eatherton tallying 11 points and nine rebounds to lead the Huskies to a 14-point lead at the intermission.
Cal Poly would turn things around in the second half however, shooting 65.4% from the field with Brian Bennett scoring 13 of his team-high 19 points and David Nwaba adding 11 points to help lead the Mustangs to a 60-58 win.
Nwaba provided the highlight of the evening as well, using an Aleks Abrams ball screen to make his way to the basket. Path to the rim cut off by the defender? No problem for Nwaba, who spun back to his left and finished the play with a two-handed dunk.
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David Nwaba Dunk from Jeremy Jauregui on Vimeo.
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.