Cal Poly Men’s Basketball took down Siena 70-66 Saturday, Dec. 7 inside Mott Athletics Center. Four Mustangs scored in double digits as Cal Poly overturned a first half deficit to earn its first win over a Division I opponent of the 2019-2020 season.
“We pride ourselves on being resilient, fighting through adversity,” freshman guard Colby Rogers said. “In previous games, we’ve been in the same position and we folded… we didn’t want to keep doing the same mistakes, so we fixed it up and got a win.”
Siena took the first lead of the night as guard Matt Hein hit a three-pointer to score the game’s initial points. The Mustangs responded immediately through freshman forward Kyle Colvin. The redshirt freshman started and finished the play — recovering a rebound which eventually led to a jump shot from the field.
Cal Poly went on to take its first lead of the game at the four minute mark. Graduate wing Malek Harwell put the game at 5-4 after a layup on a fast break. The Mustangs followed up with a quick pass from the baseline to Harwell, who finished off the play with a three-pointer, forcing Siena to call a timeout.
The two teams traded points for the majority of the first half. With ten minutes remaining, only four points separated the teams as the Saints led 18-14.
Siena outscored the Mustangs 7-2 within three minutes to take a six-point lead at 23-17. However, Cal Poly turned the game around before the half ended. Rogers hit a three-pointer assisted by senior guard Job Alexander to cut the deficit in half.
Rogers went on to dominate the rest of the half, driving through multiple Siena players to deliver a layup and following with another three-pointer to tie the game at 27-27. Siena finished the half with a seven point lead at 33-28.
“I think tonight we finally outshot an opponent at the free throw line for the first time this year,” head coach John Smith said. “So that’s the main thing we’re trying to do, is not just take quick shots, but move the ball and then drive them and get to the free throw line.”
The Saints came out aggressively during the opening of the second half and extended their lead to ten points at 42-32. The Mustangs started to mount their comeback as layups from Alexander and freshman forward Alimamy Koroma brought the game to 42-38.
Koroma went on to have a career-high 14 points on the night.
“[Koroma] is a people pleaser, so he’s gonna make mistakes, but he has to stay true to who he is,” Smith said. “When he does, he’s a phenomenal player, as you saw tonight.”
Sophomore guard Junior Ballard led Cal Poly in scoring during the second half with seven unanswered points to tie the game at 45-45. Ballard finished the game with a team-high 15 points.
Four points from Alexander and another three-pointer from Rogers gave the Mustangs the lead at 51-50 with nine minutes left in the game. Ballard and Koroma were vital to the Mustangs’ victory as Ballard scored seven and Koroma scored four in the last ten minutes of the game.
The game finished at 70-66 as the Mustangs secured their second home win of the season.
Cal Poly will face Fresno State in their next game Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.