The men’s basketball team split its road games this week, winning against Big West Conference leader UC Irvine 79-66 Thursday night before losing to Cal State Fullerton 81-71 Saturday night.
The win against UC Irvine — who the men lost to by 22 on Jan. 18 at home — (13-11, 6-2 Big West) broke the Mustangs’ (6-15, 1-6) run of 10 straight losses.
Junior guard Victor Joseph led the way offensively for the Mustangs. He scored nine points in the first half with perfect shooting, going 4 for 4 from the field and knocking down his sole free throw attempt. As a team, Cal Poly shot a steady 51 percent in the first 20 minutes to go into halftime up 36-35.
UC Irvine freshman center Ioannis Dimakopolous, at 7-foot-2, caused problems for Cal Poly in its game against the Anteaters, scoring 19 points and corralling 10 rebounds. He tried to continue that momentum, leading UC Irvine in scoring after the first half, but the Mustangs tightened up in the second half. Dimakopolous managed only four points during 11 minutes of the second half.
With the big man rendered ineffective, the Mustangs went on a 28-9 run over the middle 10 minutes of the second half to open up an insurmountable lead. Joseph and sophomore guard Donovan Fields made free throws to seal Cal Poly’s first victory since Dec. 3.
Though the Anteaters held a 37-32 advantage in rebounding, to be expected with a pair of seven footers, the Mustangs outscored them in the paint 36-24. Cal Poly’s forwards proved formidable enough to help hand UC Irvine their first conference loss of the year and earn the Mustangs their first conference win of the season.
But the winnings would run out on Saturday night.
The Cal Poly men’s basketball team fell short against Cal State Fullerton at Titan Gym despite Joseph scoring 22 points for the second game in a row.
The Mustangs were able to force 19 turnovers while only giving the ball up 11 times, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the Mustangs’ inability to score points in the paint as the Titans outscored the Mustangs 32-14 down low.
In the first 11 minutes of the game, the Mustangs and the Titans exchanged leads five times before the Titans opened up a 9-0 run to take a 24-18 lead with eight minutes to go in the
Fields kept the Mustangs afloat in the closing minutes of the first half, scoring seven points and keeping the Titans’ lead to a manageable seven points entering halftime, 39-32. Fields finished with 11 points and three assists off the bench.
The Mustangs tied the game late in the second half after a three by junior forward Luke Meikle, who finished with nine points on 3 of 7 shooting from downtown, with nine minutes to play. Over the next eight minutes, the Mustangs were held to only one field goal, a three by Joseph.
Over that same period, the Titans went on a 16-6 run over the Mustangs, taking a 10 point lead into the final two minutes of the game. Though the Mustangs had overcome a 10 point Titans’ lead earlier in the second half, they were unable to come back again before the final whistle.
Senior guard Ridge Shipley, the only other Mustang to score in double figures, added 14 points and five assists, which was not anywhere near enough to overcome the five double-digit scorers from Cal State Fullerton.
Next Thursday, the Mustangs will be back at Mott Gym to take on the UC Davis Aggies (13-8, 5-1) at 8 p.m.