Despite trailing by as much as 14 points in the first half, Cal Poly Men’s Basketball turned the score around to defeat San Jose State 75-71 on Sunday, Dec. 13 inside Mott Athletics Center.

Sophomore forward Alimamy Koroma and freshman forward Brantly Stevenson reached career highs with 19 points and 17 points respectively. Senior guard Keith Smith contributed 13 points in Cal Poly’s (2-2) second win on the season. 

San Jose State’s Richard Washington led all players in scoring with 24 points.

San Jose State (1-2) began the game with an early 6-0 run where they converted all three of their attempts while Cal Poly missed all four.

However, Smith opened the score for Cal Poly with a layup for 6-2 with 18:18 on the clock. Less than a minute later, the Spartans forced a Mustang turnover forcing freshman guard Kobe Sanders to foul San Jose’s Seneca Knight who then converted a pair of free throws to make the score 10-2.

Cal Poly’s defensive woes continued as Koroma misplaced a pass that led to a Knight layup to make it 20-8. San Jose led Cal Poly in field goal percentage with 57% compared to 33% with 11:20 remaining in the half.

However, Cal Poly pushed the tempo on offense to go on a 6-0 run to bring the score to 20-14. The Spartans responded with an immediate 5-0 run themselves to pull away at 25-14.

Thanks to effective passing along with efficient offensive and defensive play, the Mustangs came within 1 point at 33-32 after graduate forward Hank Hollingsworth converted a layup with 1:31 left until the halftime buzzer.

Freshman forward Dyson Koehler scored a pair of free throws to close out the first half with the Mustangs trailing at 36-34. 

Despite San Jose having a higher shooting percentage than Cal Poly in the first portion of the half, the Mustangs outshot the Spartans 45% to 37% in the half overall. Knight led the Spartans with 10 points, while Koroma paced Cal Poly with 10 points of his own. 

Cal Poly started off the second half on a hot streak with a 9-2 run, taking their first lead of the game at 39-36 thanks to a Sanders three-pointer from the top of the key.

Within the first two minutes of the half, San Jose missed 4 out of 6 free throws. The Spartans’ missed free throws throughout the half proved to be a key factor in the defeat, as they went 13-23 from the line.

Cal Poly continued its strong defensive play early in the half, but San Jose regained their lead with a three pointer for 44-43 courtesy of Knight. Less than twenty seconds later, Smith drove to the basket to convert a layup that would regain the Mustangs’ lead at 45-44. 

The lead changed nine times throughout the game, all occurring in the second half. It remained tight as both teams went back and forth until the final buzzer. However, for the final three minutes, Cal Poly maintained its lead and closed out the game at 75-71. 

Cal Poly outrebounded San Jose State 43-38 but had three more turnovers than the Spartans. The Mustangs held San Jose to 35% shooting from the field while they shot 44% and capitalized on free-throw opportunities at 21-26 compared to San Jose’s 21-33. 

Cal Poly will close out their five-game home stand on Wednesday, Dec. 16 against San Diego State.

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