Freshman guard Colby Rogers’ layup with 0.4 seconds remaining lifted Cal Poly to a 101-100 victory over Cal State Fullerton in a Big West Conference men’s basketball game Thursday night inside Mott Athletics Center.
Cal State Fullerton, which trailed by 10 points with 2:32 to play, rallied to force overtime. Austen Awosika capped a 23-13 Titan run with a 22-foot jump shot from the top of the key with two seconds left in regulation to send the game into the extra period.
Sophomore guard Junior Ballard scored a career-high 32 points, a high for any Mustang this season, and three other Mustangs scored in double figures as Cal Poly improved to 5-15 overall and 2-4 in Big West games.
Cal State Fullerton, despite 32 points from Jackson Rowe and 28 by Awosika, fell to 8-14 and 3-4. It was the first time the two teams met since John Smith, a former Cal State Fullerton assistant coach, became head coach at Cal Poly last spring.
There were 11 lead changes and the score was tied five times in the first half. Ballard’s 12 first-half points helped Cal Poly take a 46-41 advantage into the locker room at the break.
Cal Poly slowly built a 70-59 lead with 9:11 to play on two free throws by Ballard, led again by 11 at 76-65 on a three-pointer by Ballard with 6:04 to go and twice led by 10 points down the stretch before the Titans mounted a furious rally, scoring 23 points in the final 152 seconds of the second half to force overtime.
The two teams combined for just six points — three each — in the first four minutes of the extra session.
Nolan Taylor’s two free throws gave Cal Poly a 98-96 edge with 1:04 to play and Jackson Rowe answered with two free throws with 43 seconds left. A free throw by Keith Smith lifted Cal Poly to a 99-98 lead with 22 seconds left and Awosika’s jumper with four seconds left gave the Titans a 100-99 lead.
That set the stage for Rogers as he sprinted down the floor, took a pass from Keith Smith, dribbled through the key and made the game-winning layup with 0.4 seconds remaining.
Keith Smith added a career-high 17 points, Rogers 16 and Jamal Smith 11 for Cal Poly, which made a season-high 57.4 percent of its floor shots (35 of 61), including nine of 22 from three-point range. It was the Mustangs’ highest shooting percentage since hitting 58 percent of their floor shots against CSUN in 2013.
Ballard’s 32 points are the most by a Mustang since Victor Joseph tallied 33 against Cal State Fullerton in January 2018.
Cal Poly snapped a three-game overtime losing streak with Thursday’s win.
Brandon Kamga scored 16 points for the Titans, who also made 35 of 61 floor shots (12 of 24 from three-point range) and outrebounded Cal Poly 32-29, led by Rowe with 11 for a double-double. Keith Smith grabbed seven boards for the Mustangs and also contributed four assists and a pair of steals.
Cal Poly plays its next Big West game Saturday at UC Davis.
-Provided by Cal Poly