Junior Bryan Penn-Johnson throws down a dunk in the second half. Credit: Owen Roberts | Mustang News, 2023

Cal Poly Men’s Basketball dropped its eighth straight game in a 70-52 loss to Long Beach on Thursday, Jan. 26 inside Mott Athletics Center.

The Mustangs (7-14 1-8 Big West) couldn’t contain the Beach (10-10 5-4 Big West) offense as they continued their freefall down the standings.

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Cal Poly quickly started the contest off in an 8-0 hole, but was brought back to life after junior guard Kobe Sanders knocked down a pair of three-balls to cut the deficit to two. 

The Mustangs never led in the first half, but the story of the first 20 minutes of play was the battle inside the paint. 

Cal Poly’s 22 points in the painted area were outmatched by the Beach, who scored 26 total paint points thanks in part to eight offensive rebounds. 

Long Beach State took a 10-point lead into halftime by a score of 39-29. Cal Poly managed 29 points despite only shooting 2-for-13 [16%] from three-point land. 

Junior guard Brantly Stevenson led the Mustangs in scoring at the halfway mark, cashing in nine first-half points.

The battle continued in the second half, as Cal Poly went on a 9-2 with 7:40 to play to cut the lead down to eight. 

Junior center Bryan Penn-Johnson played big minutes to open the second half, running down the floor and throwing down a pair of dunks that sparked some excitement inside of Mott Athletics Center.

The final nine minutes, however, were some to leave in the past for the Mustangs, who were limited to only three field goals and seven total points. 

Long Beach State finished the game on a 14-4 run, securing the 72-50 wire-to-wire victory.

Senior guard Trevon Taylor had a big night on the glass, pulling down 11 boards to go along with his eight points.

Stevenson ended the night with 13 points, serving as the leading scorer for the Mustangs.

“We just got to change up our mindset to start winning some games,” Stevenson said. “It’s as simple as that, everybody has to change up their mindset and it will be a quick turn around”.

Head coach John Smith echoed this sentiment, arguing that talent is not the problem on this squad.

“We gotta believe in ourselves,” Smith said. “The confidence is a little shaken but we’ll get it back and should be able to muster up wins again. There is no lack of talent, as we have shown in pre-season and early in the year.

The record is not what Cal Poly would have hoped for this far into the season, but nothing has changed for the Mustangs in terms of their goals. 

“We can’t look in the past, we have to continue moving forward,” Smith said. “Response is everything and we are preparing to respond the right way.”

Cal Poly’s next chance to end this losing streak comes on Saturday, Jan. 28 against Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.