Cal Poly Men’s Basketball fell to UC Riverside 70-53 on Saturday, Jan. 16 inside Mott Athletics Center.
After a tough loss the night before to the Highlanders (6-3, 3-1 Big West), Cal Poly (2-8, 0-4 Big West) could not right the ship against the same opponent. The loss brings their current losing streak to six games, and drops their home record to 2-5 on the season.
The game followed a similar script to the one played the night prior. During a competitive first half neither team could take control of the game, but throughout the second half the Highlanders pulled away to secure the victory.
A strong start from sophomore forward Alimamy Koroma, who scored Cal Poly’s first seven points of the game, helped jumpstart the Mustangs to an early two-point lead about three minutes into the game. The Highlanders’ center Jock Perry countered with a 7-0 run of his own, capped by a three-pointer to regain the lead. After a dunk by junior forward Tuukka Jaakkola, UC Riverside went on another 7-0 run which extended their lead to 10, their largest of the half.
Cal Poly would not go away. Two free throws by freshman guard Kobe Sanders with 4:44 remaining in the half gave the Mustangs a two-point lead at 22-20. However, the Highlanders had an immediate response as guard Zyon Pullin scored two of his game-high 20 points on the next trip down the floor for Riverside. The teams traded three-pointers on the way to a 25-25 tie with 3:10 left, the last tie of the game.
Riverside entered the half with a 30-26 lead. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the first half with the Mustangs shooting 25.9% from the field and the Highlanders making 37.5% of their attempts.
The second half opened similarly to the first, with Koroma scoring first for Cal Poly followed by a three by Perry for Riverside. From there, Riverside started to build on their lead. After just over four minutes of action, the Highlander lead sat at 10 points. The Mustangs refused to go down though, and a three by Sanders cut the deficit to five points at the 14:18 mark.
The lead expanded again highlighted by a Pullin jumpshot which gave Riverside a 14-point advantage. The Highlanders seemed to always have a response for every push by the Mustangs, and the six point deficit is as close as the Mustangs would get. UC Riverside would take control down the stretch to finish the game. The final score had the Mustangs falling 70-53.
Koroma was the only Mustang to finish in double figures with 13 points. The Highlanders had four players in double figures, led by Pullin with 20 and Perry with 17. Riverside owned the battle on the boards collecting 43 rebounds compared to just 29 by Cal Poly. Riverside finished the game shooting 46.6% from the field and 38.5% from three, while Cal Poly converted 30.9% of their attempts from the field and 36.4% of attempts from three.
Cal Poly will get an opportunity to get back on track when they play away at UC Irvine Friday, Jan. 22nd inside Bren Events Center.