Sophomore Aaron Price Jr. (15) finished with 12 points in the Mustangs loss to Denver on Thursday, Nov. 9. Credit: Brandon Bomberger

For years Head Coach John Smith preached defense as the core identity of what he wanted to see from his team. However, his vision didn’t come to fruition in Cal Poly Men’s Basketball’s opening road loss, where the team gave up 97 points while only putting up 76 themselves as the team fell to the University of Denver on the road Thursday, Nov. 9.

This is the Mustangs’ (1-1) first loss of the season, while Denver (1-1) picks up their first victory. 

The Mustangs and Denver traded baskets back and forth, but at the 15-minute mark, the Pios went on a 20-2 run, which gave Denver a 28-10 lead

The Mustangs stopped the run when graduate student guard Jarred Hyder, who finished 10 points in the first half, hit two 3-pointers. 

In past seasons, the Mustangs have struggled to defend without fouling. Against Denver, the team allowed the Pios to get to the free throw line 39 times compared to 12 attempts for the Mustangs. 

From the field, the Mustangs shot 13-35 (37.1%) from the field, while Denver shot 15-26 (57.6%). 

The Mustangs cut the lead to 15 at 10:26 left in the second half on a layup by Cal Poly sophomore forward Aaron Price, Jr

Price, Jr. gave the Mustangs some much-needed energy off the bench scoring 12 points on 5-10 shooting (50%), along with grabbing a total of seven rebounds, which was a high for the team. 

The Mustangs cut the deficit to 13 points was at its lowest at the seven-minute mark when Cal Poly senior guard Kobe Sanders capitalized on a midrange jumper.

Sanders struggled in the first half, shooting 2-11 from the field, but picked things up in the second half by getting to the free-throw line. The senior finished the game with 18 points.  

Despite the Mustangs mounting a comeback in the second half, Denver held on to a significant lead. Pioneers senior guard Tommy Bruner led the way with 28 points. 

For the Mustangs, in addition to Price, Jr. and Sanders, Hyder and redshirt sophomore Issac Spears both finished the game in double-digit scoring, with 15 and 10 points respectively

Cal Poly will travel to Wyoming in search of their first road win on Saturday, Nov. 11.