The Cal Poly men’s basketball team had a chance to force overtime against DePaul when the Mustangs (8-4) trailed by three with seven seconds left, but former Morro Bay High standout Dylan Royer missed a 3-pointer, and the Mustangs fell 63-58 on Wednesday in Chicago.
David Hanson paced Cal Poly with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Will Taylor and Amaurys Fermin each scored 11.
A victory would have given Cal Poly its best start in 18 seasons of Division I basketball.
The Blue Demons (9-3) missed seven straight shots while Cal Poly used an early 10-2 surge to open a 14-9 lead. The Mustangs then went cold for 10 minutes while DePaul, off to its best start since the 1999-2000 season, rattled off 13 straight for a 22-14 edge with 5:06 left in the first half.
The Mustangs didn’t hit a field goal for more than 12 minutes until Will Donahue broke the drought with a minute left before halftime. The Mustangs were 7 for 26 from the field but 7 for 10 on free throws in the first half.
“I thought it was the 12 possessions in the first half,” head coach Joe Callero said of the difference in the game. “The first 6 to 8 minutes we were 5 for 12, and then we went 0 for 12. We bounced back, but we were down by seven at half.”
Shooting improved for both teams in the second half, and the Mustangs crept within three points in the last 3:27. The last three-point gap came after Hanson’s layup with 30 seconds left pulled Cal Poly within 61-58.
DePaul’s Cleveland Melvin missed two free throws with 23 seconds left, and the Mustangs rebounded and rushed downcourt, but Royer’s 3-pointer was unsuccessful.
Cal Poly has one more nonconference game before opening Big West play Jan. 2 at home against UC Santa Barbara.
San Diego State 79, Cal Poly 78
Forward Kristina Santiago scored a career-high 44 points to go with five rebounds and four steals, but Cal Poly couldn’t rally to defeat Aztecs.
Santiago finished just two points shy of tying Laura Buehning’s program record of points scored in a game set against Cal State Dominguez Hills in 1982. Santiago also finished just one field goal shy of the program’s single-game record, set by Buehning as well, when she had 17 against UC Santa Barbara and UNLV in 1981.
Santiago’s performance put the Mustangs (3-9) within striking distance of defeating San Diego State. Cal Poly rallied from a six-point deficit in the final two minutes to pull within one with 19 seconds left, but the Mustangs wouldn’t get closer down the stretch.
Caroline Reeves and Ariana Elegado both scored eight points for Cal Poly.