Credit: Eyasu Betwos | Mustang News

Cal Poly men’s basketball concluded their season series with UC Riverside with a 78-58 loss on Saturday, Feb. 19 at SRC Arena in Riverside.

The loss extended the Mustangs’ (5-18, 1-10 Big West) six-game losing streak, while the Highlanders (14-9, 7-4 Big West) won their second straight, continuing their solid play this season.

During the first half of Saturday’s matchup, it appeared as though Cal Poly would find a way to keep it close the whole night. As, despite UCR reaching a 19-10 advantage nine minutes before the break, junior big man Alimamy Koroma’s hook shot and three-pointer on successive possessions helped Cal Poly cut the deficit to 28-23 with four-and-a-half minutes remaining.

However, that would be the closest the Mustangs got.

The Highlanders closed the half with a 12-5 run, took a 40-28 lead into the locker room and never looked back. Though Cal Poly attempted to mount a comeback in the second half as they pulled to within eight at 49-41 with 14 minutes to play, UCR’s solid offense and defense prevented th  Mustangs from building much momentum. 

The Highlanders, on the other hand, scored 29 more points and would go on to win by 20, by a score of 78-58.

Despite the loss, Koroma registered a career-best scoring performance of 26 points, 12 of those coming via a career-best four threes.

Despite Koroma’s excellence, Cal Poly was outplayed in virtually every offensive category in the loss. The Mustangs shot just 38.6% (22-57) from the field compared to UCR’s 59.3% (32-54), and shot 57.1% (8-14) from the stripe against 58.3% (7-12) from UCR. 

Additionally, the Mustangs were just 28.6% (6-21) from three compared to the Highlanders’ 41.2% (7-17). Also, Cal Poly lost the rebounding battle, 33-31, gave up 13 turnovers to the Highlanders’ 11 and scored only five points off the bench..

Statistically, it was Koroma (26 points, 11 rebounds) along with Brantly Stevenson (13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) who led the way offensively for the Mustangs.

Cal Poly will look to get back in the win column when they host CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. inside the Mott Athletics Center.

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