Despite four Mustang players scoring in double digits, Cal Poly dropped their second game of the season 74-67 against North Dakota State on Monday, Nov. 11th inside the Scheels Center. While the Mustangs had higher shooting percentages from the field and the three-point range, the Bison converted 25 of 31 free-throw attempts in route to the victory.
Sophomore guard Junior Ballard led the Mustangs (0-2) in scoring with 20 points, while senior guard Jamal Smith added 17 points of his own.
The two teams exchanged blows throughout the beginning of the first half with five different lead changes in the first seven minutes. The Mustangs began to fall behind with 6:50 left in the half as the Bison (2-1) got out to an eight-point lead at 25-17. After a pair of free throws from North Dakota State’s leading scorer, Vinnie Shahid, the Bison led 30-21 with 3:56 to go.
Then, Cal Poly took control of the first half. For the last four minutes, the Mustangs went on a 12-0 run to go into halftime with a 33-30 lead. The run was led by five points from freshman guard Colby Rogers, who scored a last second three-pointer to give Cal Poly the lead.
Smith led the Mustangs with 11 points at the half, while sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakkola followed him with six points. The team shot 48.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range at the end of the half.
The Mustangs came into the second half with momentum and tacked on five more points before the Bison were able to get on the board for the first time in nearly six minutes. The beginning of the second half was very similar to the first, as each team went back and forth until the game was tied at 51-51 with nine minutes remaining.
North Dakota State led for the entirety of the nine remaining minutes as their biggest lead reached nine points. Despite shooting a better field goal percentage in the second half (56%) than the first (48.1%), the Mustangs were unable to pull away.
Other than Ballard’s and Smith’s combined 37 points, Jaakkola and Rogers each scored 10 points. The offense ended the day with shooting percentages of 51.9 from the field and 50 from the three-point range.
The Mustangs will travel home to Mott Athletic Center for their home opener against Simpson on Friday, Nov. 15th at 7:00 p.m.