GAME NOTES: The Cal Poly Mustangs are getting hot at just the right time and now find themselves matched up against the Pacific Tigers in the semifinals of the 38th annual Big West Conference Tournament as a result.
Enjoying one of their most successful campaigns in Big West play, the third- seeded Mustangs opened their postseason schedule with a resounding 64-41 win over UC Davis on Thursday, running their overall win streak to six in a row in the process.
As for the second-seeded Tigers, winners of this event a total of four times, the latest championship coming in 2006, they managed to hold off UC Santa Barbara in the first game of the day on Thursday in a 71-68 final.
The teams split their two regular season meetings, each winning on their home floors, which means the all-time series now stands at 33-14 in favor of the Tigers.
The survivor this time around will advance to the title game on Saturday night to face the winner of the UC Irvine/Long Beach State matchup for the right to represent the Big West in the NCAA Tournament.
Dylan Royer scored a game-high 17 points as the Mustangs captured a convincing 23-point win over the UC Davis Aggies in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday. Royer converted all five of his 3-point attempts and also accounted for five rebounds and three steals for the third- seeded Mustangs, while Drake U'u delivered 10 points. Defensively, the Mustangs forced 14 turnovers and held Davis to just 36.4 percent shooting from the floor. The squad shut down Corey Hawkins (six points) who had been one of the top scorers in the country heading into the meeting with close to 21 ppg.
In what has to be considered a positive, the Mustangs came up with the lopsided win even though Chris Eversley was limited to just seven points on 3- of-11 shooting from the floor. Eversley is the team's leading scorer on the season with 15.9 ppg and is also tops on the glass with just over seven boards per contest. Royer accounts for 10.1 ppg, thanks to his outstanding 42.8 percent accuracy beyond the arc.
A layup by Travis Fulton with 17.4 seconds remaining turned out to be the game winner as the Pacific Tigers slipped by UC Santa Barbara in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament yesterday. Fulton finished with 11 points for the second-seeded Tigers, followed by Colin Beatty who connected on 6-of-7 shots behind the 3-point line as he tallied a team-best 26 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Lorenzo McCloud registered 12 points, six boards and four assists. In a game that featured six ties and four lead changes, Pacific survived with a 26-14 scoring edge in the paint.
The Tigers are averaging 68.0 ppg this season, but they have just one player scoring in double figures in McCloud with his 11.4 ppg. The epitome of a balanced scoring attack, Pacific has a total of six players scoring at least six points per game this season so there's a good chance that any one of them can step up and make a difference in this outing.
If the defense for the Mustangs can show up and play as hard as it did yesterday versus UC Davis, certainly Cal Poly has a good shot at advancing to the championship round.
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