Cal Poly

Cal Poly men's basketball team rolls to a big win in its season opener

Cal Poly’s Drake U’u, right, drives past San Jose State’s Joe Henson in the Mustangs’ 79-52 win Saturday.
Cal Poly’s Drake U’u, right, drives past San Jose State’s Joe Henson in the Mustangs’ 79-52 win Saturday. jmellom@thetribunenews.com

Two seasons ago, Amaurys Fermin and Will Taylor transferred to Cal Poly together. It took two seasons for both to finally find the floor at the same time, but against San Jose State in the Mustangs’ season opener, the two showed exactly what they can combine to do.

Fermin scored a team-high 17 points, Taylor grabbed a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Cal Poly men’s basketball team defeated the Spartans 79-52 on Saturday.

“It’s been too long,” Taylor said. “We’ve talked about it every day. We’ve been talking about this since Hagerstown and I’m just really happy to have my best friend playing the game.”

Prior to Cal Poly, the two attended Hagerstown College, where Fermin averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 assists per game a sophomore, earning All-Maryland JuCo first-team honors.

He has sat out the past two seasons due to redshirts, one he took after transferring in 2008, and then one because of a torn ACL at the start of last season.

After playing in his junior season, averaging 4.9 points and five rounds per game, Taylor decided to redshirt last season to focus on schoolwork. He’s returned to the Mustangs lineup this season 40 pounds lighter, to help give the Mustangs a rebounding and scoring presence they haven’t had in recent memory.

The Mustangs used the two of them to take an early lead against the Spartans on Saturday. They raced out to as much as a 16-point lead after a 3-pointer from former Morro Bay High standout Dylan Royer put the Mustangs up 20-4 with 11:48 left in the half.

The Spartans answered with a 16-5 run over the next four minutes to pull within a 25-20 deficit, but the Mustangs then found their groove again, getting 3-pointers from Fermin and a few buckets from sophomore guard Maliik Love to take a 40-27 lead at the break.

The Mustangs kept that momentum rolling in the second half, extending the lead to 24 points after two free throws from Jordan Lewis that put the Mustangs up 58-34 with 12:19 minutes remaining in the second half.

They would take their largest lead of the game at 75-46 after Taylor sank a layup with 3:30 minutes left in the game.

It was a collective effort on both sides of the court by the Mustangs. They had four players post double-figures, and 10 players who were on the court for more than 10 minutes.

“If you look at our advantages, you’re not going to see a 6-foot-9, 270-pound All-American center,” head coach Joe Callero said. “ Our depth allowed us to kind of maintain a level of defensive intensity. Twenty nine minutes is the most minutes we saw ... and having 10 guys in double figure minutes is really part of our gameplan.”

Those 10 guys combined for Cal Poly’s highest point total since scoring 80 against UC Irvine last season on Feb. 10. Love scored 12 points and center Will Donahue scored 10.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we changed the lineup three or four times throughout the year. We want to have some form of consistency, but at the same time were not married to it,” Callero said. “For us to win a game with (forward) David Hanson going 1-for-14, and score 79 points, I think that’s the most impressive part of our offense tonight.”

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