Cal Poly beats Cal State East Bay in Exhibition opener

Updated: November 7, 2017

It was just an exhibition and it started like a first game might. In the end, a few new faces made their Mott Gym debuts and Cal Poly men’s basketball beat Cal State East Bay 72-66 on Thursday night. 

Pioneers keep it close

Cal State East Bay kept the game close throughout. A 22-12 first-half lead for Cal Poly was the game’s only double-digit deficit. CSU East Bay closed the gap to one at halftime and had a 43-40 lead with 13:37 to play in the game, before Cal Poly quickly reclaimed the advantage for good.

Josh Martin picked-up where he left off last season, tallying a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Marcellus Garrick scored 18 points off the bench and Donovan Fields scored 16 points and dished three assists.

Hancock College transfer Marcellus Garrick provided a spark off the bench in Cal Poly’s exhibition game on Thursday night. By Owen Main

Garrick makes an early impact

Marcellus Garrick seemed to make an immediate impact when he came onto the floor with 12:01 to play in the first half and the game tied at 10.

After missing a jumper, Garrick got two open court layups and a free throw to drop. In the second half, Garrick made a pair of late shot-clock three pointers and gave Cal Poly fans a number of breathers in a game that went down to the wire. 

Competition gets tougher

After beating Division II Cal State East Bay by six points in the Thursday exhibition, Cal Poly will face stiffer competition next week. The Mustangs will play at Pac 12 schools Stanford (Friday, 4pm) and Cal for games that count. The Mustangs have made a point to play multiple teams from power conferences in the preseason every year in recent memory, and this season is no different. 

While Stanford and Cal are probably the toughest two games on the schedule, Cal Poly will also play at SMU, University of Texas – Arlington, and in Florida against Bethune-Cookman (Daytona Beach).

This preseason also sees the Mustangs hosting more quality Division I opponents than they have in previous years. Cal Poly will see Pepperdine, Fresno State, and Princeton all visit Mott Athletics Center in December. 

Who’s The Voice?

Joe Callero described his team as one that gets along and has very good chemistry. He also acknowledged that players were maybe still trying to make sense of the difference between good, efficient offense and what overpassing or being too worried about getting teammates involved. I’m sure I butchered that paraphrase, so watch this postgame clip and read for yourself. 

Multiple options

At the end of last season, Cal Poly was down to a pair of consistent scoring options in Victor Joseph and Donovan Fields. As teams keyed on one slippery little guard, the Mustangs were able to simply go to the other. With the addition of Josh Martin (back from injury) and Garrick, Joseph and Fields struggled at times to find their rhythm. While Fields picked a few spots and was able to overcome some early missed layups and score 16 points, Joseph struggled all game and was held scoreless. A team that has lots of guys scoring probably gets along well, and can be weird to guard at times.

But teams like that are also sometimes inconsistent. Cal Poly has lots of players who could lead the team in scoring any given night. But a player with the consistency that’s needed to be able to produce, even when the other team’s goal is to stop that one player, is something they haven’t really had since Chris Eversley and David Nwaba

New Faces

Cal Poly started all players who were on the roster a year ago, including  redshirt freshman Mark Crowe who saw his first game action. Fans didn’t see any other new faces on the floor until Karlis Garoza checked in midway through the first half. In fact, Garoza and Marcellus Garrick were the only two “new” Mustangs to see time in the game. Eric Toles and Paulo Cruz — both of whom might compete this season with Garrick, Crowe, and Kuba Niziol for playing time — didn’t see the court.

Guard #2, and the 3

Cal State East Bay’s Druce Asah put on a little show.  looked right at home on a Division I floor. Cal State East Bay scored 18 of their first 28 points on three-pointers (6-8) while Cal Poly began the game 3-8 from downtown. Asah finished with a game-high 29 points, including 7-9 from three point range. 

Callero talked about an emphasis being put on defending the three-point line this year, but the Pioneers shot 12-22 for the game. Cal Poly will have to shore-up their defense on all levels if they want to stay close with the northern California Pac 12 schools they face this weekend. 

The first two official games of the season come on the road. They start Friday at 4:00pm vs. Stanford in Palo Alto and Sunday at 1:00pm vs. Cal in Berkeley. 

Photos by Owen Main.To view more photos, click here. If you just want to contribute to the cause, Venmo @Owen-Main or paypal