The Cal Poly Men’s Basketball team was shut out in a quick road trip to southern California, losing to Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.
Thursday versus Cal State Fullerton
Senior point guard Donovan Fields scored double-digits for the 20th time this season with 20 points, but Cal Poly fell 86-75 to Cal State Fullerton Thursday night. The Titans took control of the game in the second half with strong free throw shooting to push themselves to second place in the Big West Conference.
Cal State Fullerton (4-14, 10-4) set a new single game record for free throws for Cal Poly (6-20, 2-11) opponents, sinking 35 out of their 49 attempts.
The Mustangs looked strong from the tip-off, kicking off the scoring with a 7-0 run. Sophomore wing Mark Crowe made a three-point jumper just 40 seconds into the game, assisted by senior guard Marcellus Garrick. The Mustangs continued to put up points with layups from Garrick and Fields.
Fields made a layup at 15:39 after the Titans first score of the game, giving the Mustangs a 9-2 lead. Cal State Fullerton responded with a three-pointer by Khalil Ahmad. Garrick made two free throws and Kuba Niziol added a layup for a 13-7 Cal Poly lead.
Both teams made field goals over the next few possessions, Cal Poly still holding onto the lead at 8:27 with a score of 21-15 over the Titans. The Titans made an effort to catch up over the next two minutes with a 9-0 run over the Mustangs. Strong scoring from Titan forward Jackson Rowe secured the Titan’s first lead of 24-21. Senior forward Hank Hollingsworth tied it back up at 26-26 with a made free throw for the Mustangs at 4:05. Fields and Garrick put up two layups each, contributing to the Mustangs halftime lead of 35-32.
At the start of the second half, Crowe made a jumper to put Cal Poly on the board first. The Titans then went on an 8-1 run over the next 3:00 of the second half, retaking a lead 41-40 over the Mustangs. Fields responded with a jumper at 15:54. The score was tied up twice more before the Titans took control of the half. The final tied score of 54-54 was recorded after Field’s free throw at 9:43. The Mustangs were never grabbed the lead for the remainder of the game.
The Titans took off on a 10-1 run with four free throws and a jumper put up by Rowe and Ahmad. Cal State Fullerton pulled away with 4:27 on the clock with its first double-digit lead at 71-60.
Attempting to close the gap, Garrick scored eight of the Mustangs’ next 12 points. Junior guard Job Alexander scored two layups to account for the other four, taking the Mustangs score up to 72-78 just behind the Titans. Redshirt freshman guard Jared Rice managed to score one last free throw, while Alexander put up one last layup during the Titans’ eight point stretch. The Mustangs left the game with just a six point deficit to the Titans, 86-75.
Saturday versus Long Beach State
On Saturday night, the Cal Poly Men’s Basketball team fell to Long Beach State 94-85. The loss significantly hurts the Mustangs chances at making it to playoffs, as they sit in last place in the Big West Conference.
Although the Mustangs (6-21, 2-12) did not lead throughout the game, they surpassed Long Beach State (13-18, 7-8) in rebounds– 43 for Cal Poly versus 34 for Long Beach State. Ten of Cal Poly’s 43 rebounds were collected by sophomore forward Karlis Garoza. Cal Poly also committed less turnovers– 15 for the Mustangs versus 8 for Long Beach State.
The Mustangs were slow in the start of the first half, despite sophomore wing Mark Crowe making an early layup after the Highlanders opened the scoring. Long Beach State quickly broke away. Guard Jordan Roberts made a jump shot and a steal, followed by a layup from guard Deishuan Booker to give the Highlanders a 10-2 lead.
After Long Beach State quickly gained their eight point lead, Cal Poly called a timeout. The Mustangs regathered and went back out with confidence. A quick jump shot was scored right off the bat by freshman forward Tuukka Jaakkola, followed by another jumper and a layup from senior point guard Donovan Fields to close the gap to two points.
However, Long Beach State re-gained momentum. A combination of free throws, jump shots and a dunk by forward Mason Riggins left Cal Poly in a 10-point deficit halfway through the first half.
Senior Marcellus Garrick, who scored a career high of 30 points throughout the game, fought back hard for the Mustangs with a series of free throws, jump shots and a 3-pointer, but it was ultimately not enough as the Mustangs went into halftime down 40-31.
A strong back and forth between Cal Poly and Long Beach State resulted in both teams scoring 54 points in the half. Cal Poly had several point runs, including a 14-4 run with only 5 minutes left in the game.
Garrick and Fields lead the second half with 17 and 18 points scored in the final frame, but the point gap from the first half combined with Booker’s 20 points scored in the second half proved too difficult to overcome. Long Beach State earned its largest lead of the game at 19 points with 5:36 left in the game on the way to the Mustangs’ loss, 94-85.
Cal Poly will close out its season in Mott Athletics Center, hosting the first place UC Irvine on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and the third place UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m.