Junior guard Shawn Lewis led the Mustangs with a team-high 16 points Saturday night at home. Senior guard Lorenzo Keeler added 13 points. Photo by Ryan Sidarto- Mustang Daily

Cal Poly men’s basketball head coach Joe Callero diagnosed his team’s effort in recent contests a product of “altitude sickness.”

“You think you’re playing hard, but you’re only playing 95 to 90 percent speed,” Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said. “Ninety percent doesn’t win at this level, or any level … We thought we we’re going to win by just showing up.”

Saturday night that wasn’t the case.

As the Mustangs (8-14, 5-5 Big West) lost to Pacific (15-7, 8-2) 67 – 61, Callero said this game was a step in the right direction.

“Generally, I have been very disappointed for the last two weeks,” Callero said. “But tonight’s performance was the best effort and most competitive that we have been (in our four-game losing streak).”

Two of the last three losses were decided by 20 or more points. In all three games, one Cal Poly starter scored double digits.

“I think we finally hit rock bottom and we are coming up for air,” Callero said.

Against Pacific, junior Shawn Lewis scored a team-high 16 points, while senior Lorenzo Keeler, the leading scorer in the conference, added 13 for the Mustangs.

“I have been saying all year the most important thing in coaching is that you have to feel like you are getting better,” Callero said. “What was disappointing was that the prior 10 days, we really hit a wall. Tonight was the night where we said enough was enough, it was time to compete with the top team (in the Big West) on the road.”

Pacific opened the game with a 12-0 run before Keeler put the Mustangs on the board.

The Tigers rallied on a three-point play by Allen Huddleston to give the Tigers a 19-9 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the half.

With the deficit at 20-9, Cal Poly was not ready to give up.

Lewis and David Hanson hit back-to-back threes to cut the lead to 25-23, forcing a Pacific timeout. The Mustangs grabbed their first lead of the game when Hanson connected on his second three of the game and a 26-25 lead.

But the Mustangs couldn’t hold off Pacific as they regained the lead, 31-30, on a lay up by Nyika Williams with 1:45 left in the half. Pacific went into the break with a 37-32 lead.

The Tigers opened the second half with a lay up by Sam Willard; Cal Poly responded when Lewis slammed home a dunk.

Pacific extended its lead to 53-38, but the Mustangs responded when Kyle Odister hit a three of his own to make the score 53-41.

Drawing closer, the Mustangs got to within 10 at 53-43 when Charles Anderson broke free for a fast-break lay up with 9:37 left.

Keeler then made a lay up with 28 seconds left to put Cal Poly within five, but would not get any closer.

“I am not too discouraged from tonight, I am very couraged … (It was) a great step in the right direction,” Callero said. “We are still very happy we are 5-5 in conference play; we are still tied for third with four other teams.”

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