This game had disaster written on it from the beginning. Jeremiah Dominguez was out in street clothes, and it looks like he may be out for academic reasons which would likely be a season ending suspension. The pay seats were almost empty. Those in charge of marketing at the athletic department have a lot of work to do to make the Stott Center an intimidating place to play. On the bright side, both Andre Murray and Justynn Hammond were in action tonight, and the Vikings would need both their contributions to pull off a victory.
Play began dreadfully for the Vikings. Their game plan was to feed Scott Morrison in the post to take advantage of the size discrepancy. Much to the chagrin of Tyler Geving, Morrison turned the ball over the first two touches he got. Then he was yanked and he sat and sat and sat. The Viks played over ten minutes without Morrison on the floor, and his replacement was the offensively-limited Julius Thomas. How you can bench your biggest mismatch in the game for ten minutes over two turnovers is incomprehensible. The Viks struggled offensively without Dominguez and Morrison, and they sputtered along for most of the half save for the efforts of Deonte Huff and Andre Murray. Then, to the surprise of most fans present, the Vikings found a serviceable backup at small forward. Out was Kyle Coston who has struggled all year, and in was Justynn Hammond. He provided great energy off the bench and hit two big 3 pointers. He looked a little uncomfortable on defense, and looked lost without the ball, but was magical with it in his hands. Then, another screwed up coaching move occurred. Alex Tiefenthaler was subbed out after a long stretch at the four and Tyrell Mara came in. After Mara didn’t rush the shooter on a made 3 ball, Geving pulled him out and put back in the exhausted looking Tiefenthaler. Ken Bone finally put a leash on his power hungry assistant and chewed him out. The entire half was dominated by great shooting by the Mustangs. They seemed to make every outside shot they took, led by Trae Clark. Dupree Lucas looked in control for the Vikings all half, and played well while at the same time providing much-needed leadership. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay out of foul trouble, drawing three in the first half. The Viks were able to cut the lead to one point at the end of the half due to strong play by Murray, Polis, Huff, and Morrison.
Halftime 37-36 Cal Poly
The Viks came out with a completely different energy level in the second half. They finally got the crowd into the game by throwing down some dunks, and hitting some big outside shots. Though he turned the ball over a few times on bad passes, Polis played a very solid game in place of Dominguez. He was able to make most of the shots he took, and did not have the ball stolen on the dribble. Charles Anderson led the Mustangs offensively, and without his effort, they would have been blown out of the building. Their leading scorer, Lorenzo Keeler, did absolutely nothing all night, hurting their chances. Down the stretch, they were unable to hit outside shots, and big outside shots by Lucas and Tiefenthaler sealed the deal.
Final Score: PSU 74-66
Everybody is healthy now, but the Vikings’ success will center around whether or not Dominguez plays the rest of the way. If not, Polis will have to run the show, and work on making better passes. Hopefully Justynn Hammond will be the long term solution to the problems of the bench. The result is unsatisfactory after the whooping the Mustangs received from NAU, but the win is the most important thing at this juncture.