Cal Poly men’s basketball began their four game road trip with a 59-55, 13-point comeback win against the UC San Diego Tritons on Thursday, Jan. 27 at the RIMAC arena in La Jolla.
The win helped the Mustangs (5-12, 1-4 Big West) snap a two game losing streak while the Tritons (8-11, 0-0 Big West*) lost their sixth straight after their solid start to the season.
At first, it appeared as though neither squad could do anything offensively, as the score was a rather unexpected 6-2 in favor of UCSD through the first 10 minutes of the contest.
However, by holding the Mustangs to just four field goals, all courtesy of junior forward Alimamy Koroma, in the first 15 minutes, the Tritons were able to extend their lead to 19-8. Despite two brief surges by the Mustangs, UCSD would carry that lead the rest of the half and stretch it from seven to 11 to leave it at 33-22 heading into intermission.
As the second half began, it seemed like the Tritons would cruise to the win as they quickly added two more buckets to stretch their lead to 37-24 with 18:38 remaining.
However, it was then that the momentum of the game shifted entirely as Cal Poly broke off a 10-minute, 20-6 scoring run to put them up 44-43. Four different players scored and the Mustangs held San Diego to just 1-7 from beyond the arc scored during the run
Cal Poly wasn’t done yet, as junior guard Trevon Taylor would go on a 9-3 run by himself to pad the lead and make it 51-46 with five minutes to go. The offensive surge gave the Mustangs defense the fire it needed, and five minutes later the win was set in stone.
The Mustangs were the better shooting team from the field, going 40% (20-50) compared to UCSD’s 33.3% (20-60), and shot 88.9% (16-18) from the stripe against 77.8% (7-9) from UCSD. However, the Mustangs were just 17.6% (3-17) from deep compared to the Tritons’ 26.7% (8-30).
Though Cal Poly won the rebounding battle 39-31, they also gave up 24 turnovers to the Tritons’ 18 and scored only two points off the bench while UCSD came away with 18.
Statistically, it was Koroma (19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) along with Taylor (17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists) who led the way offensively for the Mustangs.
Cal Poly will look to make it back-to-back winswhen they visit UC Irvine on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. inside the Bren Events Center.
*: With UC San Diego in its Division I reclassifying process, Thursday’s result did not count toward the Big West standings.