Cal Poly men’s basketball lost a closely contested matchup against the Portland Pilots 78-77 on Monday, Dec. 13 at the Chiles Center. 

This loss was the Mustangs’ (3-7) fifth decided by three points or less. Between Cal Poly and the Pilots (8-3), the largest lead of the game was six points. 

The Mustangs started the game with a lot of pace and energy on the offensive end. Redshirt freshman guard Julien Franklin created an offensive rebound for Alimamy Koroma, who finished a layup. Then, graduate transfer guard Jacob Davison had a runout dunk on the very next possession. 

The teams then traded the lead until the 15-minute mark, when Portland built up a five-point lead. After a hot shooting start, both teams didn’t score for almost three minutes. The score was stuck at 21-16 in favor of the Pilots until junior point guard Camren Pierce hit a pull-up jumper to break the scoreless streak. 

Cal Poly junior forward Trevon Taylor found his groove late in the first half, as he scored six straight points for the Mustangs. Taylor finished the half with 12 points on a perfect five of five shooting. 

Portland guard Chris Austin responded to Taylor’s run by hitting a heavily contested three-pointer at the end of the shot clock and a baseline layup at the end of the half to tie the score at 37.

In the second half, the Mustangs held a one possession lead until the last two minutes of the game. 

Towards the end of the game, the Pilots put on a full court press that sped up the Mustangs and forced a few turnovers that gave them a chance to win. After getting a stop, Portland forward Kristian Sjolund hit a stepback three to put the Pilots up one with just under two minutes left. 

On the next play, Taylor got fouled on a drive and made two free throws to put the Mustangs back up by one. However, Robertson of Portland got fouled on the other end and made two free throws to regain the lead. 

Cal Poly then turned the ball over after Koroma fell on a post-up. However, sophomore guard Brantly Stevenson stole the ball on the subsequent inbounds and made a layup to put the Mustangs up again 77-76.

Then, Portland point guard Mike Meadows got to the basket and was fouled and made two free throws to make the score 78-77. 

With eight seconds left, Davidson went coast to coast and put up a layup that was off. The Mustangs battled for the tip-in, but it rattled out and the final buzzer sounded. 

Taylor had a career-high 27 points on eight of 11 shooting and ten made free throws. He added eight rebounds, despite fouling out at the end of the game.

Davidson followed Taylor’s efforts with 17 points of his own to go along with three assists.

The Mustangs will continue their road trip and take on Fresno State on Friday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m in the Save Mart Center.

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