Credit: Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Throughout the entirety of the game, Cal Poly Men’s Basketball held the lead only once and ultimately fell 71-57 to UC Santa Barbara inside The Thunderdome on Friday, March 5. 

UC Santa Barbara (18-4, 12-3 Big West) clinched the Big West Conference regular season title in the victory and will head into the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed. Cal Poly (3-18, 1-14) will head into the tournament as the No. 10 seed and awaits its No.7 seed opponent. 

Sophomore guard Colby Rogers led all players with a career high 21 points followed by sophomore forward Alimamy Koroma adding 17 points. The Gauchos had four players in double figures. 

Both sides started the game with quick offensive possessions within the first 60 seconds, but the pace of the game slowed down over the next four minutes bringing the score to 7-4.

With 11:35 remaining, both teams were even with 13 points until the Gauchos pulled away on a fast offensive break to regain the lead at 18-13. UC Santa Barbara continued its momentum to go on an 11-6 run capped off with a dunk by guard Josh Pierre-Louis.

A pair of free throws by Rogers sent Cal Poly into the half trailing by 10 points at 33-23. 

Despite being outscored in the half, the Mustangs held the Gauchos to 43% shooting from the field compared to their 45%. Strong defensive play from UC Santa Barbara forced Cal Poly to turn the ball over nine times off of which they converted 12 points.

Both teams opened the second half in fiery offensive fashion, each scoring 13 points by the 14:34 minute mark.

Minutes later, UC Santa Barbara started pulling away with an 8-3 run, but Cal Poly immediately responded with a 7-2 run themselves to cut the deficit to 56-46. 

Throughout the game, the Mustangs trailed by as many as 12 points as both teams continued to trade baskets until the Gauchos extended their lead to 66-52 with 4:09 remaining. 

UC Santa Barbara comfortably closed out the Blue-Green rivalry game at 71-57. 

Points off turnovers proved to be a determining factor in the defeat as the Gauchos converted 21 points from 17 Mustang turnovers. 

Cal Poly will close out their regular season on Saturday, March 6 against UC Santa Barbara inside The Thunderdome before heading to Las Vegas for the Big West Conference Tournament. 

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