Despite four players scoring in double-digit points, Cal Poly Men’s Basketball remained winless on the road after falling 81-73 to CSUN Thursday, Feb. 13 inside the Matadome. The loss came after Cal Poly took down CSUN just 33 days prior inside Mott Athletics Center.
Graduate guard Jamal Smith opened the scoring for Cal Poly (7-17, 4-6 Big West) with his first free throw after being fouled and sent to the line. After Smith missed the second free throw, CSUN (11-15, 6-4 Big West) countered with a four-point play by junior guard Terrel Gomez and a three-pointer from sophomore guard Darius Brown II.
The two teams exchanged buckets until the score was 11-8 in favor of the Matadors. However, CSUN followed up with a 12-0 run that included 10 straight points from Brown. The Mustang offense stopped the run with buckets from redshirt junior forward Nolan Taylor and redshirt junior guard Keith Smith, bringing the score to 23-12 with the Matadors on top.
After back-and-forth scoring, Cal Poly scored five straight points to bring the score to within single digits at 28-21. The Matadors extended their lead to eight with a layup from redshirt sophomore forward Lamine Diane with one minute to go in the half.
On the next possession, Jamal Smith hit a shot from behind the arc to bring the game back to within five at 34-29. After a miss by CSUN and a short timeout, the Mustangs had possession of the ball with three seconds remaining in the half. Jamal Smith dribbled up the court and nailed a half-court buzzer-beater to cap off the first half and cut Cal Poly’s deficit to two points at 34-32.
The Mustangs shot 44.8 percent from the field in the first half, topping the 36.1 percent shooting of CSUN. However, the Matadors led the three-point percentage battle, shooting 38.5 percent compared to Cal Poly’s 30.8 percent.
Jamal Smith led the Mustangs in the first half with 11 points, while CSUN’s Brown II led all players with 17 points.
Despite Cal Poly’s momentum from the first half buzzer-beater, the Matadors took control of the game in the second half. CSUN opened the half with an 18-7 run to increase its lead to 54-39. The Mustangs were able to bring the game within single digits after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Junior Ballard cut their deficit to 77-68 with 1:20 remaining in the game.
However, the comeback effort proved to be too late as CSUN closed out the game by knocking down ten free throws in the last two minutes for an 81-73 victory.
Cal Poly shot 44.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, while CSUN finished with 43.1 percent field shooting and 31.6 percent from the three-point range. The two squads were evenly matched on the rebounding game as well, as each team hauled in 41 boards.
However, the difference proved to be CSUN’s performances at the charity stripe. The Matadors knocked down 19 of 25 attempts (76 percent) while the Mustangs converted just 10 of 18 (55.6 percent).
Cal Poly will stay on the road to take on Cal State Fullerton Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3.