Cal Poly opened up their Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational campaign with a loss against Creighton 86-70 on Saturday, Nov. 22. The Mustangs (1-4) kept their deficit consistently around 18 points throughout the game, but could never climb back as all five Creighton starters scored double digit points.
A layup from freshman forward Kyle Colvin during the second minute of the first half evened the score at 2-2, but that was the closest the score got as the Mustangs failed to take the lead throughout the game. Creighton opened 7 of 7 from the field and expanded their lead to 13 points with two threes from Marcus Zegarowski and a dunk from Ty-Shon Alexander, but a three-pointer from graduate wing Malek Harwell stopped the bleeding.
After playing only six minutes for the entire season prior to this game, Harwell poured in 16 points with four three-pointers in 24 minutes. It was a career-high for the graduate transfer, who spent four years at Boise State.
Freshman forward Alimamy Koroma hit a free throw after Harwell’s three to make the score 18-9, but the Bluejays responded with a 14-3 run to put their lead at 20 with 9:17 left in the half. The Mustangs closed out the half on a 15-8 run, which included a three at the buzzer from Colvin, to bring the score to 51-38 going into the half.
Colvin and Harwell each hit a three early in the second half, but the Bluejays made any sort of comeback difficult as they put the Mustangs in foul trouble. Cal Poly had 15 personal fouls in the half, including four on Colvin.
Creighton’s lead reached 24 points during the half and sat at 23 after two free throws from Mitch Ballock with 4:16 left. However, Cal Poly closed out the half on the offensive again with a 9-2 run led by two layups from Harwell.
Colvin paced the Mustangs with a career-high 18 points. Sophomore guard Junior Ballard also added 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field.
Free throws were the difference in this game as both teams shot 52 percent from the field and made nine threes each. Creighton went 19 of 23 from the line compared to 5 of 10 for the Mustangs. Creighton also forced 18 turnovers and scored 27 points directly off of those turnovers.
Cal Poly plays its next game of the non-conference tournament on Sunday, Nov. 24 at Iowa.