GAME NOTES: The Cal Poly Mustangs begin a two-game homestand on Saturday night, as they welcome the Santa Clara Broncos to Mott Gym for a non- conference clash.
After opening the season with back-to-back wins, Santa Clara hit a rut with four consecutive losses, including an 0-2 showing at the Cable Car Classic with setbacks against North Dakota State (91-85) and Rice (67-66). The Broncos got back on track on Wednesday night when their sojourn to Cal State Bakersfield ended in a 60-42 triumph.
Cal Poly has also struggled to get off the ground this season, as it sits with a lackluster 2-5 record. The Mustangs most recently participated in the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge in Eugene, Oregon last weekend, and after beating North Dakota in the opening round, 70-43, they fell on consecutive days to Pacific (73-71) and Oregon (82-61).
Santa Clara downed Cal Poly last December on its home floor, 59-51, to improve to 4-1 in the all-time series.
While the Broncos had a solid shooting performance in their latest win (.469), the biggest story came at the other end of the floor, where they held Bakersfield to a lowly 17-of-52 from the field (.327). It's a good thing they stepped up their defensive play too, because they had a dreadful showing at the free-throw line (7-of-21). Evan Roquemore led the way with 12 points, Nate Kratch added 11 points, and Jerry Brown tallied a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Despite getting outshot by its opponents from the field this season, 44 percent to 45.5 percent, Santa Clara is still able to score more points (75.1 ppg) than it allows (69.4) thanks mostly to its outstanding turnover margin (+4.9). Brandon Clark (17.6 ppg) and Jared Brownridge (15.3 rpg) serve as the top scoring options, and each make 3-pointers at greater than 41 percent. Roquemore brings 12.3 points per game to the table, while Brown tallies 10.1 points per game on 64.1 percent efficiency from the floor.
The Mustangs were overmatched by Oregon in their most recent bout, as they shot just 40 percent from the field, including 6-of-27 from 3-point range, on their way to a 21-point setback. They were also just 11-of-16 at the foul line, while the Ducks cashed in on the Mustangs' foul trouble by making 25- of-35 attempts. Brian Bennett logged 11 points and seven rebounds, while Dave Nwaba, Maliik Love and Ridge Shipley each netted nine points.
On the season, Cal Poly has performed poorly at the offensive end as it shoots just 42.3 percent from the field for 63.7 points per game. Its saving grace has been a sound defensive effort, which holds opponents under 40 percent shooting for 61.9 points per game. Chris Eversley is the team's top performer with 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, although his numbers have been hindered by poor showings from the field (.390), 3-point range (.281) and the free-throw line (.667). Nwaba (10.6 ppg) is the only other player in double figures, doing his damage on 66.7 percent field goal accuracy.
With neither team performing up to its potential this season, a low-scoring, undisciplined game could be on tap, which would benefit Cal Poly considering its defensive-oriented scheme.
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