Chance Hunter (right) turned in a 23-point double-double on Wednesday. Credit: Owen Roberts | Mustang News, 2023

Cal Poly Men’s Basketball dropped its 14th straight game, the program’s longest losing streak in its Division-I history, by a score of 70-62 to Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday, Feb. 15 inside Mott Athletics Center. 

After the best non-conference stint in head coach John Smith’s tenure, the Mustangs (7-20, 1-14 Big West) have failed to find a win in 2023. Meanwhile, the Roadrunners (10-16, 6-9 Big West) have won three of their last four games.

When asked about why the team took a turn for the worse, Smith responded “if I knew that, we wouldn’t be in this 14-game spell.”

“We got to find a group of guys that will continue to fight for 40 minutes,” Smith said. “I don’t think we had that tonight.”

The Mustangs led 27-26 at halftime over the Roadrunners, but now in back-to-back games, the team has allowed 44 points in the second half. 

“We didn’t defend in the posts well enough to win games,” Smith said. “We pride ourselves on defense, and we talked about trying to get three stops in a row at the end of the half and at the end of the game, and we couldn’t do that.”

Cal Poly brought the game to within one point with 5:22 remaining, but the Roadrunners extended the lead to 10 in the following four-and-a-half minutes. The Mustangs then cut the lead to four during the last minute of play, but Bakersfield closed the game out.

Graduate small forward Chance Hunter was a bright spot for the Mustangs. The Cal Baptist transfer bounced back from a shooting slump with a 23-point, 13-rebound performance that included four buckets from three-point range.

“I feel like I’m finally getting back to myself,” Hunter said. “I got injured a couple of times earlier in the season, but I feel like at this point in the season, I’m finally playing like myself and I feel like this can help us come March.”

Regardless of where the team finishes in conference play, the Mustangs will have a shot to make a run in the Big West tournament. 

“Every team that we play, we match up well,” Smith said. “We have a chance to play throughout the Big West tournament and make some noise if we get everybody locked in for 40 minutes the whole time.”

Junior point guard Camren Pierce made his imprint in his third game back from a wrist injury, finishing with 11 points and two assists in 29 minutes while bringing energy and hustle to a lackluster team defensive performance. 

“It’s unfortunate that [Pierce] has been injured the whole year off and on, and it’s definitely disrupted us,” Smith said. “But no one cares, the only thing that matters is that we’ve lost 14 in a row and we gotta find a way, but Cam is a catalyst for us and he played well tonight.”

The Mustangs have hit the final stretch of Big West play and will now travel to take on Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. inside Titan Gym.