Cal Poly Men’s Basketball lost on the road against No. 18 Saint Mary’s 79-48 Sunday, Nov. 17. Despite having an early lead, the Mustangs (1-3) succumbed to the Gaels’ (3-1) explosive offense late in the first half and failed to recover.
The Mustangs jumped to an 8-0 lead over the Gaels with four baskets made by four different players. The run was highlighted by an assist from junior point guard Keith Smith to sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakkola and a long two-point shot by graduate transfer guard Jamal Smith.
The Gaels responded with a 10-2 run that began with two consecutive stops and included a coast-to-coast layup by leading scorer Jordan Ford. Another jumper from Ford and a layup from guard Tommy Kuhse made the score even at 10.
Junior wing Mark Crowe knocked down Cal Poly’s first three-pointer to put them up 17-15 midway through the half. Five of the Mustangs’ seven baskets within the first nine minutes came on layups led by senior guard Job Alexander and freshman forward Alimamy Koroma. The Mustangs shot 57 percent (8/14) from the field up to this point.
Cal Poly’s success ended with 9:20 left on the clock as Saint Mary’s began a 31-4 run to bury the Mustangs.
Tanner Krebs knocked down a three-pointer from the wing, which jumpstarted the crowd inside McKeon Pavilion. Back-to-back dunks from center Matthias Tass brought the score to 24-17 in favor of Saint Mary’s.
Alexander made the Mustangs’ first field goal in over five minutes with 4:19 on the clock. Fitts knocked down two more threes before guard Alex Ducas added another to extend the gap at 44-21.
Cal Poly was limited to two field goals in the nine-minute stretch and went 1-4 from beyond the arc. Saint Mary’s more than doubled Cal Poly’s shot attempts and went 6-10.
Saint Mary’s entered the second half with a 48-21 lead and continued to put pressure on Cal Poly. Ford knocked down a three-pointer to put the Gaels up by 27 points.
The Mustangs transitioned to a zone defense early in the half and momentarily stifled the Gaels. Cal Poly followed with a 6-0 run that was led by Keith Smith’s steal and layup.
Jaakkola scored a team-high 11 points in the half and 13 on the game to tie his career-high.
Cal Poly stayed in the game, but an emphatic dunk by center Aaron Menzies put Saint Mary’s up by 36 — their largest lead of the night. The Gaels continued their three-point shooting success to maintain their lead as the game concluded.
The Mustangs were missing senior forward and rim protector Hank Hollingsworth in the defeat. The absence showed, as Cal Poly were out-rebounded 24-36 and had just one block on the night.
Cal Poly will continue their five-game road trip on Friday, Nov. 22 at Creighton.