The first half of the season-opening game went about as planned for the Hancock College men's basketball team Friday night.
The Bulldogs had control early and led 36-26 at one point before settling on a 40-35 lead at halftime. Hancock shot 52% from the field and over 44% from 3-point range. The Bulldogs got to the line 15 times in the first 20 minutes.
The second half did not go as planned. Hancock shot 43% from the field then, went 2 for 10 from deep and 6 for 12 from the line.
Cuesta went off in the second half, meanwhile, outscoring the Bulldogs 50-34 to pull away for an 85-74 win at Hancock's Joe White Memorial Gym.
Hancock sophomore Amari Stroud, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Chico State, scored a game-high 20 points. Stroud slammed home a high-flying ally-oop from Dillon DePino to give Hancock a late spark in the second half.
But Cuesta kept scoring. The Cougars went 17 for 31 in the second half and made 6 of 9 3-point attempts, while going 10 for 14 from the free throw line.
Both teams played fairly well on offense, though Hancock did commit 18 turnovers that led to 26 Cuesta points. Hancock led by 10 points early in the first half, but Cuesta was just too efficient, hitting 9 of 16 3-point attempts in the game.
Darryl Brooks led Cuesta with 19 points. Manu Trosman added 18, Alex Aguirre chipped in 16 and Japjit Gill scored 12.
Brooks scored 17 points in the second half, while Aguirre scored 12 second-half points, with Trosman adding 11.
Hancock sophomore Nick Chapman made 4 of his 10 3-point attempts to finish with 12 points. Caleb Whalen, an Arroyo Grande product, scored all nine of his points in the first half. Bryce Carver, the starting point guard and a sophomore, had a solid all-around game with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Hancock actually held a 37-31 advantage in rebounding.
The game was the season-opener for both teams, who typically meet in Western State Conference showdowns. However, in the coronavirus pandemic impacted season, there will be no conference play this year. Hancock, in fact, has nine games scheduled this spring. They are set to play host to Bakersfield on Thursday, March 11 with tip scheduled for 6 p.m. They then play at Bakersfield on March 12.