Cal Poly dropped both its games against Cal State Monterey Bay and Montana State this weekend, marking the first two losses for the Mustangs this season.
The Otters slipped past the Mustangs with four minutes remaining to grab their first lead of the game and held on to hand the Mustangs their first loss against a Division II team since joining Division I in 1994.
Cal Poly played poorly in all areas of play, shooting just 29.6 percent from the field, 52.2 percent from the free-throw line and 15 percent on 3-pointers while committing 18 turnovers.
Junior David Hanson, who led Cal Poly with 18 points and added eight rebounds, said the team couldn’t find a rhythm at any point in the game.
“We didn’t execute offensively what we wanted to do,” Hanson said. “We never got in the rhythm offensively and didn’t get the ball where we wanted at certain spots.”
Cal Poly struggled from the perimeter, making just three of 20 3-pointers for the night but was kept alive in the first half with 10 second-chance points. Junior Will Donahue, who posted his second straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, was able to score six points on three offensive rebounds in the first half.
The Mustangs tied their largest lead of the game at 32-22 early in the second half but a combination of missed shots and careless ball-handling allowed Cal State Monterey Bay to stay in the game.
Donahue only had one basket in the second half and said Cal State Monterey’s defense sunk into the paint more in the second half, trying to force more Cal Poly shots.
“They played us how they wanted us to play, and we couldn’t do what we wanted to do,” Donahue said. “They just had control of the game.”
Cal Poly made only one field goal in the last 14 minutes of play, while Cal State Monterey Bay scored 15 points on Cal Poly’s 18 turnovers. Hanson and senior Shawn Lewis combined for 10 of Cal Poly’s turnovers.
Head coach Joe Callero said with no other players stepping up, his leading scorers were trying to force shots in the second half, which led to a high turnover rate.
“It’s kind of scary clear; the reality is that offensively we have to get so much more contribution from other parts and I think that Lewis, Hanson and Donahue feel a compelling urgency to contribute,” Callero said. “What we saw is that they were having to force the issue a little bit.”
Only those three Cal Poly players scored more than one basket, with the bench for Cal Poly remaining quiet throughout the game, combining for two points on one for 10 shooting.
Despite a rough shooting night, Cal Poly managed to hold onto the lead until they fell behind 48-47 with four minutes remaining. Cal Poly couldn’t answer and remained scoreless in the final six-and-a-half minutes of play, missing its last 10 straight shots.
Against Montana State, Cal Poly lost 73-57, with 37 combined points coming from Lewis, Hanson and Donahue.
Although the Mustangs have dropped two games in a row, Callero said his biggest concern is not the opponents but about developing the younger players for Cal Poly.
“Really, it’s about developing our game right now,” Callero siad. “I’m much more concerned about the play of our players. It’s about developing those guys so that as we continue the year we can continue to learn.”
Cal Poly returns to Mott Gym at 7 p.m. Wednesday to face Loyola Marymount.