Credit: Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Following two losses in the first two games of the regular season, Cal Poly Men’s Basketball bounced back with a 89-45 victory in their home-opener against Simpson on Friday, Nov. 15.

“It’s a work in progress,” first-year head coach John Smith said. “I still don’t like the pace that we’re playing in transition, we’re not playing fast enough. I don’t like the fact that we’re fouling so much… Those two things we have to sure up, but we’re getting there.”

Cal Poly (1-2) started strong with sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakola scoring the game’s initial points. After a layup from junior Keith Smith, Simpson senior Blake Trent hit a three-pointer to give the Red Hawks their only lead of the game at 5-4. However, the advantage only lasted 48 seconds in total before graduate guard Jamal Smith responded with a three-pointer to retake the lead for the remainder of the game.

With 15 minutes remaining in the first half, the Mustangs brought the score to 11-9 through field goals from freshman forward Kyle Colvin and Keith Smith. Free throws from Jaakola and a layup from Colvin extended the score to 14-9 before a Simpson three pointer cut the Red Hawks’ deficit to two points. Cal Poly responded with a 6-0 scoring run to begin to pull away at 20-12.

Colvin led the Mustangs in the half and scored nine points behind a 44 percent success rate from the field. Colvin went on to reach a career-high in scoring with 15 points.

Colvin (33) finds Keith Smith on a pass during the Mustangs’ win over the Red Hawks on Nov. 15. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News
Colvin (33) finds Keith Smith on a pass during the Mustangs’ win over the Red Hawks on Nov. 15. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

“In that position, you need someone that’s as cerebral as [Colvin] is… he’s expanding his role with this team because of his readiness,” Smith said. “I’m excited for him. I look forward to seeing him progress these next four years.”

The San Luis Obispo native said that while points will come, he is thankful for the big win as a team.

“Main thing for us is we just gotta win,” Colvin said. “It was nice playing in front of these fans. I’ve been playing in front of them for my whole life, so it’s nice to be back out there. I missed it.” Colvin said.

The Mustangs started the second half with a 10-point lead at 36-26. A breakaway and a layup from Kieth Smith kicked off the scoring before sophomore guard Junior Ballard followed with a jump-shot and a steal, prompting Simpson to call a timeout.

Alimamy Koroma received a technical foul for hanging onto the rim after a dunk. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Three minutes passed and Cal Poly scored 11 points before Simpson got their first bucket of the second half to bring the score to 49-29. Freshman guard Colby Rogers went on to have a standout second half and converted three of four attempts from the three-point line. Rogers’ 11 points in the second half made for a career-high 14-point performance.

“I came here as a shooter and [my teammates] know that, so they are always looking for me on the break,” Rogers said. “Even when I’m missing, they still give me that confidence to keep shooting.”

Cal Poly kept the pressure high throughout the second half and secured a 22-point lead with 15 minutes left to play. Big plays from junior wing Mark Crowe, Rogers, and Jamal Smith put the game out of Simpson’s reach at 87-42. Freshman forward Alimamy Koroma capped the night off with a slam dunk to bring the final score to 89-45.

Cal Poly will travel up north to face No. 18 Saint Mary’s in its next game on Sunday, Nov. 17. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m.

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