Cal Poly men’s basketball was eliminated in the opening round of the Big West Tournament after a 63-53 loss to the UC Davis Aggies on Tuesday, Mar. 8 inside Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nev.
The Mustangs (7-21, 3-12 Big West) entered the tournament as the No. 10 seed and faced off against the No. 7 seeded Aggies (13-10, 5-6 Big West) and made it a close game until the final minutes.
In the first half, UC Davis jumped out to an early 9-5 lead before a 7-0 Mustang run gave Cal Poly a 12-9 advantage with 12:45 remaining. The Aggies quickly took back the lead in what was a back-and-forth first half. The Mustangs tied the game at 21-21 late, but UC Davis closed out the period with a 27-24 lead.
Junior guard Trevon Taylor kept the Mustangs in the game in the first half, as he scored 13 of the Mustangs’ 24 points.
The matchup continued its back-and-forth play with the Mustangs staying close behind the Aggies in the second half.
UC Davis started the second half by knocking down six unanswered points after a Taylor layup to extend their lead to 33-26. The Mustangs did not allow the Aggies to jump out to a double-digit and clawed their way back to tie the game at 43-43 after sophomore point guard Camren Pierce hit a jumper with 5:43 remaining.
However, the Aggies answered back and a late three-pointer by UC Davis guard Caleb Fuller made the upset out of reach, as the Mustangs had to start intentionally fouling.
Although both teams shot 21-52 from the field, the Aggies won the game at the free-throw line as they made 17 free throws compared to the Mustangs’ seven.
Taylor led Cal Poly with 20 points and eight rebounds while Pierce added 11 points on the night. Junior big man and the Mustangs’ leading scorer in 2022 Alimamy Koroma was in foul trouble for the majority of the matchup, as he played in just 21 minutes.
Cal Poly finished the season with a 7-21 record in Head Coach John Smith’s third season coaching the Mustangs to bring his overall record to 18-64.
With only one graduating member of the team this season, Cal Poly will likely bring back the majority of their roster for the 2022-23 basketball season.