Jordan Lewis had a co-starring role in one of the national highlights of the week, albeit an unflattering one.
When Cal State Fullerton sank an in-your-face last-second game-winner against the Cal Poly men’s basketball team in a regionally televised game Wednesday, the Mustangs sophomore forward’s was the face being used.
He was attempting to block the final desperation shot, and he was the lone Cal Poly player in the slow-motion replay getting shoved around as an entire team of Titans formed a dogpile around him.
“It must have come on Prime Ticket at least four or five times, SportsCenter Top 10,” teammate Charles Anderson said. “It was definitely disheartening.”
But Saturday was Lewis’ retribution, even if the TV cameras weren’t around for a 60-57 Mustangs upset of first-place UC Santa Barbara in Mott Gym.
In addition to making the go-ahead layup, Lewis came up with one-on-one defensive stops on the final two possessions, Anderson scored a team-high 15 points — all on 3-pointers — and David Hanson hit two late free throws as Cal Poly (11-17, 7-8 Big West Conference) clinched a spot in the conference tournament in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,032.
Lewis saw the Wednesday replay, “a few times,” he said. “It was a great shot. I felt like I was there, but he made a great shot, a running 3-pointer.”
“I was just hoping it wasn’t going to happen again, but we did the job, and that’s what’s important.”
With the score tied at 56 on Saturday, the Gauchos (17-9, 11-4 Big West), were able to drain nearly two minutes off the clock during a span in which they grabbed three offensive rebounds.
During that stretch, however, UC Santa Barbara was only able to score one point, a free throw by James Nunnally.
Cal Poly finally got the ball back when junior guard Shawn Lewis, who had 14 points but sat most of the second half in foul trouble, jumped to steal an inbound pass with 30 seconds left, and senior guard Lorenzo Keeler passed the ball ahead to Jordan Lewis for the go-ahead layup.
That set up Jordan Lewis for the final two defensive stops.
He drew the assignment on Gauchos point guard Will Brew and blocked Brew’s shot as the he drove the right lane. Cal Poly senior big man Ryan Darling collected the ball while falling out of bounds on the baseline and passed it to Hanson, who was fouled with 5.5 seconds left.
Jordan Lewis was on Brew again following the two free throws by Hanson and didn’t give Brew enough space for UC Santa Barbara to even get off a shot.
“I just tried to make it hard for him,” Jordan Lewis said. “I just tried not to let him get the extra step on me and be able to get the shot off.”
Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said he was close to calling a zone defense for the final possession in light of Wednesday’s loss, but in the end, he said he was happy with the defensive play that night, and stuck with a man-to-man.
Callero has also been happy with Anderson’s play lately.
“He started off the year real sluggish,” Callero said. “He had a groin injury, and probably for the first three or four weeks, he was out of it. Then, when we played him early in the preseason, he was trying to do more than he could. He was caught between tempos, not knowing what his role was.”
Now, Anderson’s role is clearly stated: Shoot open 3-pointers and play defense, nothing else.
Since then, Anderson has hit several clutch shots, and his three steals were two more than anyone on either team Saturday. His final 3-pointer cut the UC Santa Barbara lead to 54-53 with 6:22 remaining.