Cal Poly shoots the lights out at CSUN for Big West win

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Updated: February 16, 2017

Just because Cal Poly’s roster is small doesn’t mean they have to take a ton of three pointers. On Wednesday night in an ESPN3 game, Cal Poly came out gunning, shooting 54% en route to a 85-71 route of CSUN at the Matadome. Cal Poly led by as many as 30 halfway through the second frame. CSUN’s press helped them make the final respectable, but the Mustangs (3-8 in Big West play) held on for the win. Cal Poly has now beaten each of the top-3 teams in the Big West this season. 

Fields in control

Donovan Fields scored a career-high 23 points in Cal Poly’s win at CSUN on Wednesday. By Owen Main

Sophomore guard Donovan Fields showed a diverse offensive game en route to 23 points on Wednesday to go along with six rebounds and four assists. The 23 points ties him for the second highest point total for a Cal Poly player this year. Fields, who is listed at 5′ 10″, was scoring any way he wanted to: pull up jumpers, floaters, three-pointers, and knifing layups. He and fellow small combo guard Victor Joseph have carried much of the offensive load in conference play for Cal Poly. While they do shoot three-pointers, the Mustang guards are at their best when getting into the lane in positions to finish. Joseph finished with 15 points and five rebounds on the night.

Kuba gets hot

Sophomore forward Kuba Nizioł was supposed to redshirt this season, but after injuries to Josh Martin and Josh Mishler early-on, he volunteered to take his redshirt off and play this season. He has never been shy to shoot open shots, but over the past few weeks, Nizioł has taken steps.

On Wednesday, the Polish national made his first three pointer and missed his second shot shortly after. Many young players might shy away after missing shots, but that hasn’t been Nizioł’s MO.  

Developing post depth

While Cal Poly’s offense generally does not go through the post this season, the center position remains an important one. After losing Martin, Cal Poly has relied on Zach Gordon along with Aleks Abrams and Hank Hollingsworth at the five position. Generally two of the three are in a rotation in a given game, with a third playing just a few minutes. This has seemingly changed game to game. On Wednesday, Hollingsworth got the start and the redshirt freshman showed some growth in terms of mental and physical toughness. 

After getting his shot blocked on Cal Poly’s first offensive possession, Hollingsworth rallied and played a solid defensive game, affecting multiple CSUN shots around the paint. He even threw down a few dunks, including a tip-jam. While Gordon and Abrams have had more time at the position this year, Hollingsworth’s development is a big deal for a team that’s thin in the front court without Josh Martin and will lose Zach Gordon to graduation following this season. Having three guys who can play legitimate defense inside and give opposition big men varied looks will go a long way toward Cal Poly being a potential upset threat in the Big West Tournament. 

Two Pointers a key

I told someone earlier this year that I expected Cal Poly to shoot 25-35 three-pointers in games kind of often this year. Against CSUN, Joe Callero’s team shot just 7-18 from three-point range and didn’t make any in the second half, but still won a game that was not really in question at any point in the second half. 

In the end, Cal Poly shot 62 percent on two-point attempts and 54 percent overall. Sometimes, when you can get and make lots of good shots, well, you’re a tough team to beat. 

 

Photos by Owen Main – For more photos visit photos.fansmanship.com

 

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