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.
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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.