Cal Poly’s men’s basketball suffered their first loss by a score of 60-57 in a back-and-forth matchup with North Dakota State on Friday, Nov. 12 inside Mott Athletic Center.
The Mustangs (1-1) squared off against the Bison (2-0) in a thrilling loss that came down to the final seconds of regulation. Cal Poly looked to keep the momentum going from their win on Tuesday as the Bison rolled into San Luis Obispo to begin their west coast slate of games.
Cal Poly started the game aggressively on defense, causing five turnovers within the first five minutes of play. Graduate guard Jacob Davison scored five of the first 12 points for the Mustangs, helping them to an early 12-9 lead.
“Tonight it just came to me, other nights it comes to other guys,” Davison said about his 19-point performance. “Luckily enough I was on tonight and it’s just exciting being able to score in my new home.”
The early 12-9 lead for the Mustangs did not hold as the Bison proceeded to go on an 18-5 run spanning the next eight minutes of game time. Forward Rocky Kreuser and guard Jarius Cook took care of the scoring for the Bisons. Meanwhile, Cal Poly was held to just 29% shooting from the field in the first half.
However, senior forward Tuukka Jaakkola brought the momentum back for the Mustangs in the final minutes of the first half with an and-one conversion and a monstrous block on the defensive end. The Mustangs went into the locker room down seven, 23-30.
Cal Poly came out firing in the second half, as they went on a 10-2 run to take a 33-32 lead and create a whole new ball game. Davison connected on multiple threes, scoring six points during this run.
Back-and-forth play ensued as the lead traded off ten times in the final 15 minutes of the game. Big buckets by junior forward Alimamy Koroma and freshman guard Julien Franklin kept the Mustangs in the game down the stretch.
With two minutes left, Davison drilled a three pointer for the Mustangs to tie the game at 53 and put the pressure on the Bison.
After a foul by Cal Poly that resulted in a North Dakota free throw, the Mustangs were unable to convert on the offensive end.
With just over a minute to play and the Bison leading by one, Kreuser drained a deep contested three with the shot clock expiring to extend the North Dakota lead to 57-53.
A pair of Cal Poly free throws brought the game back to a one-possession game. However, Kresuer stepped up for the Bison once again. The forward sliced through the paint and finished at the rim to push the lead to 59-55 with 21 seconds left to play.
Kreuser ended the game with 15 points on 4-11 shooting, including the final five points to close out the Bisons’ 60-57 victory.
“We just have to do what we’re trying to do harder,” head coach John Smith said. “And we did that coming out the stretch we just didn’t finish that way.”
The Mustangs ended the game shooting 38.3% from the field and 38.5% from three-point land in comparison to the Bison, who shot 36% and 26.9%. Cal Poly also led in points in the paint and points off turnovers, but North Dakota’s ability to score down the stretch made the difference.
“We need to make sure to slow down and execute,” Smith said. “Get shots in the spots we want to and then have a better presence on the defensive side. We can’t let a man drive down the middle of the lane with thirty seconds left.”
The Mustangs will close out their stretch of home games on Monday, Nov. 15 when they welcome Sacramento State into Mott Athletic Center at 7 p.m.