Cal Poly men’s basketball dropped another close game to Sacramento State 58-57 on Monday, Nov. 15 inside Mott Athletics Center. 

For the second game in a row, the Mustangs (1-2) lost within a minute of play, this time to the Sacramento State Hornets (2-1). After a heartbreaking loss to North Dakota State on Friday, the Mustangs found themselves in a familiar position as a last-second layup beat them again.  

“Frustrating night, we didn’t do what we needed to do down the stretch once again defensively,” head coach John Smith said. 

The game started all in Cal Poly’s favor as they jumped out to a 9-3 lead thanks to junior forward Alimamy Koroma scoring the first five of his game-high 19 points and junior guard Trevon Taylor adding four points of his own.

The Hornets, however, answered back with a 9-2 run of their own, pressing the cause that this game would be a battle until the final buzzer. Leading the run with five of the nine points off the bench was guard Teiano Hardee for the Hornets. 

Taylor and Koroma led the offensive efforts throughout the half, as they ended with a combined 20 out of the Mustangs’ 26 points. 16 of these points came in the paint as the two torched the big men of Sac State. Despite this, the Mustangs couldn’t pull away as they went into half only up four points, 26-22. 

Out of the half, the Hornets responded again to the Mustangs’ lead with a 7-0 run to take the lead at 29-26. 

The Mustangs turned to Koroma again to carry the offensive load and he did just so, tying the game back up at 29 with 15 minutes left to play. 

“[Koroma] can score with the best of them and we just have to find ways to get him the ball in ways that are effective,” Coach Smith said. 

The Mustangs found great minutes off the bench from sophomore forward Kyle Colvin (six points) and freshman guard Julien Franklin (three points, two rebounds, two assists, one block) in a second half that saw seven lead changes.

Down the stretch, both teams battled for every possession. Taylor led the Mustangs with eight rebounds and two steals, most of which came in the final minutes of the game.

“I pride myself on [rebounds and steals],” Taylor said. “I know this team is going to need me to touch the rebounds and I feel like I’m a defensive stopper. So getting steals, getting blocks that just comes with playing hard and doing my part.”

Thanks to clutch free throws by graduate guard Jacob Davison and sophomore guard Camren Pierce, the Mustangs found themselves up 57-55 with 25 seconds left on the clock. 

The Hornets then turned to their leading scorer and captain Bryce Fowler. Fowler had been relatively quiet all game with 11 points, but he was the one to take the final shot. 

Fowler dribbled at the top of the key as the seconds ticked down, waiting for the screen to come. Making his move, Fowler blew past the defender and found himself converting the layup while he was fouled. After the free throw with six seconds to go, Fowler gave the Hornets the 58-57 lead. 

Cal Poly was unable to hit a game-winner of their own, as Davison’s last second shot fell short of the rim.

“We have to find a way to win down the stretch,” Taylor said. “We got to figure out how to get stops and rebounds to get a win.”

The Mustangs find themselves on the road for the next six weeks, with the first stop up in Silicon Valley against the Santa Clara Broncos on Friday, Nov. 19.

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