Cal Poly Men’s Basketball dropped its Big West Conference opener 63-45 against Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara Wednesday, Jan. 8 inside Mott Athletic Center. Freshman guard Colby Rogers matched his season-high performance of 16 points while graduate wing Malek Harwell added 11 points in the defeat.
UC Santa Barbara outshot Cal Poly from the field (51 percent versus 28 percent) and scored 7 of 14 attempts from beyond the arc. Gaucho guard JaQuori McLaughlin scored a team-high 15 points on the night.
First year head coach John Smith said he was “disappointed” following the Mustangs’ defeat.
“We didn’t shoot the ball the way that we wanted to,” Smith said. “Defensively, we had some goals that we met tonight. But offensively, we’ve got to put it together a little bit better. We’ve got to get better offensively.”
UC Santa Barbara (12-4, 1-0 Big West) opened the scoring with a pair of free throws before a layup from forward Robinson Idehen doubled the advantage at 4-0. Graduate guard Jamal Smith spun around two Gaucho players and scored a layup to grant Cal Poly (3-11, 0-1 Big West) its first points of the night on the ensuing play.
The Gauchos extended their opening lead to 16-8 behind three-pointers from Jay Nagle and McLaughlin. However, a pair of three-pointers and a free throw from Rogers cut the Mustangs’ deficit to 21-16 with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. The Gauchos followed up with a 9-2 run to distance themselves once again before the break.
UC Santa Barbara continued to apply offensive pressure until a layup from guard Devearl Ramsey granted the Gauchos their largest lead of the half at 30-18. Despite another three-pointer from Rogers to cap off the first half, the Mustangs carried a 36-28 deficit into the break.
Rogers and Harwell led the Mustangs in the first half with 12 points and 11 points, respectively. The Gauchos were paced by a 60.9 percent success rate from the field as McLaughin led the team with seven points.
“Anytime we move the ball and [Rogers] is free off a pick or a ball screen, he’s good enough to make shots when his feet are set and he has a good look at it, as you can tell,” Smith said.
Sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakkola kicked off the second half with a layup, but the Gauchos responded with 9-2 run behind four points from forward Amadou Sow.
After trading points midway through the half, a defensive battle ensued in which neither team scored for over four minutes. The scoring drought was eventually broken by a three-pointer from UC Santa Barbara’s Sow to bring the score to 57-40 with 5:17 remaining in the game.
Rogers produced one last three-pointer before the game came to a close, but the effort was not enough to evade defeat as the Mustangs fell to the Gauchos 63-45.
Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center on Saturday, Jan. 11 to take on CSUN at 7 p.m.
“It’s conference. You have to have the mentality that you’re not going to lose two games in a row, especially at home,” Smith said. “ … regardless if it’s after a loss or a win, you have to get ready for the next [game]. You have to let this one go. But, we have to learn from it, and we have to get better.”