Lorenzo Keeler’s career night helped Cal Poly win its first Big West Conference opener in three years as the Mustangs won at UC Irvine 95-81 on Monday night.
And they did it without one of their top players.
Keeler scored a career-high 38 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. Freshman Kyle Odister added a season-high 23 points for the Mustangs (4-8, 1-0 Big West).
Will Donahue, Cal Poly’s leading rebounder and second leading scorer, missed his second consecutive game while awaiting NCAA an appeal to the NCAA regarding his academic standing.
Cal Poly hadn’t won a conference opener since the Jan. 2, 2006, when it defeated Cal State Fullerton 83-70, also on the road.
Irvine (7-7, 1-1) got 25 points from Eric Wise, and Michael Hunter added 24 points.
The Mustangs began the game by hitting four of their first six shots, and finished at a season-high 60 percent from the floor, including a sizzling 58 percent from 3-point range.
Cal Poly finished the first half on an 18-7 run and went into the break with a 42-26 lead, but the Anteaters answered with a run to start the second half to trim the lead to four with 13 minutes to play.
But the Mustangs got the lead back to 10 on a Keeler 3-pointer with 6:19 left and Irvine didn’t get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Cal Poly outrebounded Irvine 33-24 and held the Anteaters to 43 percent shooting from the floor.The Mustangs will host Pacific on Friday at 7 p.m.