The Mustangs opened their season on a high note on Monday. Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News, 2022

Cal Poly men’s basketball dominated Bethesda University in a 94-59 home-opener win on Monday, Nov. 7 inside Mott Athletics Center. 

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Video by Matthew Ho

The Mustangs (1-0) rolled through the Flames (0-4) and showed the potential of Cal Poly basketball with a blend of old and new players

Cal Poly came out with a different starting lineup from last year, featuring two new players in junior Bryan Penn-Johnson at center and graduate Chance Hunter playing forward.

Along with Penn-Johnson and Hunter, three returners were in the starting five: senior guard Trevon Taylor, junior guard Brantly Stevenson and junior guard Camren Pierce.

The game started off with missed shots by both teams, but good ball movement left Hunter open in the corner for a three to begin the scoring.

The team started 1-for-5 from the field, but senior center Alimamy Koroma fought off a double team and went underneath the net to get the second basket off the game for the Mustangs. He followed that up with a reverse dunk on a fastbreak to put Cal Poly up 10-4 halfway through the first half.

Bethesda started 2-for-10, but five defensive rebounds through the first seven minutes kept the game close.

Junior combo guard Kobe Sanders then checked in and made an immediate impact, driving in off the corner and hitting a layup through two bigs to make the score 14-6.

“[Sanders] is the most important guy on our team because he can play multiple positions,” head coach John Smith said. “I played him at the point guard and in the first half he had five assists and one turnover.” 

Later in the half, the Flame defense double-teamed Koroma in the paint to leave Pierce and redshirt sophomore Aidan Prukop open for floaters on back-to-back possessions to take a double-digit lead at 22-10.

The Mustang offense continued to roll, with Hunter contributing from beyond the arc to grab a 33-13 lead with six minutes left in the half.

A full-court press by Bethesda late in the half created a fast-paced physical game. Stevenson excelled in this environment, contributing on both ends of the court, highlighted by an assist on an alley-oop slam by sophomore guard Isaac Spears

Stevenson added on by drawing a foul at half-court, making four free throws in the last two minutes of the half and a three as the buzzer went off, leading to the Mustang bench celebrating as they headed into the locker room up 51-21.

“We weren’t really worried about the press, we knew we could break that easily,” Stevenson said. “It was just about finding the open shots and knocking them down.”

Stevenson stayed hot through halftime, draining two more threes to open up the half. 

Bethesda then put together one of their better stretches of the game, starting out the second half scoring seven points compared to Cal Poly’s nine points. 

Prukop came off the bench and made an impact in the second half with a three-point play, a steal and an assist in one sequence that led to a 73-23 lead.

Spears then subbed in and heated up too, using his athleticism to finish strong at the net, dishing a no-look pass for a Penn-Johnson dunk and flushing down two dunks of his own. 

Sophomore center Matur Dhal and sophomore point guard Hayden Jory each contributed late in the game as well, flashing the potential of the Mustang bench. 

Cal Poly led 91-44 with four minutes remaining and cruised to a 94-59 victory.

Late in the game, longtime student manager Martin Cohen checked in wearing No. 30 for the Mustangs, and the team erupted in cheers.

Stevenson led Cal Poly with 16 points, while Koroma and Hunter added 15 and 11, respectively. Koroma and Stevenson also led the team with seven rebounds apiece.

The Mustangs will look to continue their momentum into their next game against the University of San Francisco on Thursday, Nov. 10 inside War Memorial Gym.