Aaric Murray saved his best game for the NCAA Tournament.
It turned out to be Murray’s final collegiate game.
The senior center was a bully in the low block scoring 38 points, but it wasn’t enough as Texas Southern fell to Cal Poly 81-66 in the First Four Wednesday night.
Texas Southern (19-15)came into the NCAAs riding a nine-game winning streak after wrapping up the SWAC tournament championship less than a week ago.
Cal Poly (14-19), who won the Big West tournament after finishing the regular season six games under .500, jumped out to a early lead and never looked back.
Entering halftime Cal Poly built a 12-point advantage, which only increased to 16 in the early stages of the second half.
The Tigers went on a 9-4 run, and even cut the Mustangs advantage to seven with under 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
Hot shooting to the tune of 56 percent from the field led by Cal Poly center Chris Eversley, who led the Mustangs with 19 points was ultimately the Tigers undoing.
“I thought we could get it back in the second half,” Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis said. “I was trying to get it to five or six with five minutes to go in the game.
“They cut it to eight, and they caught a couple of timeouts. We had the ball trapped. But they made really big shots,” Davis said
Cal Poly will take on No. 1 seed Wichita State in the second round of the Midwest Regional Friday in St. Louis.
Murray, who was the SWAC Player of the Year, tried to keep his team in it, at one point, scoring eight straight points in the second half to attempt to close the deficit.
“At first I was disappointed and then I started talking to Coach, and he let us know there was nothing to be disappointed about,” Murray said after the game. “We made it to the tournament. We had a great season. We went on like a 9‑0 winning streak at the end of our season.”
Murray ended up 14 of 23 from the field, made three 3-pointers and a made all seven of his foul shots.
The loss dropped Texas Southern to 0-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
“Our guys made history today,” said Davis. “Anytime you make the NCAA Tournament, that’s supportive history. Your name will go down as the team who made it to the NCAA Tournament.”