Lauren Rabaino

In its next-to-last regular-season game, the Cal Poly men’s basketball team rallied down the stretch, outscoring Long Beach State 41-33 in the second half for a 68-62 win Thursday night.

Sophomore guard Lorenzo Keeler made 7 of 17 shots from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range to lead the Mustangs (12-16, 7-8 Big West Conference) with a career-high 22 points.

Junior guard Trae Clark added 10 points for Cal Poly, while fellow junior guard Chaz Thomas chipped in nine points in his first action after missing five consecutive games due to an ankle condition.

Sophomore forward Arturas Lazdauskas paced the 49ers (6-23, 3-12) with 15 points.

Cal Poly visits Cal State Northridge at 5 p.m. Saturday before heading to the Big West Tournament, held in Anaheim from Wednesday to March 15.

Track and field team heads to first meet of outdoor season

After a successful indoor season, the Cal Poly track and field team will open its outdoor campaign Saturday at the UCLA Invitational.

“We’re looking forward to this weekend – it seems like it’s taken a long time for the outdoor season to finally get here,” team director Terry Crawford said. “I feel this is a team that’s poised to have its best performance in the Big West Conference this year.”

In last week’s Big West preseason coaches poll, the Cal Poly men placed third and the women fourth, exactly where they finished in actuality last season.

“I predict we’re going to be a team that really emerges this year,” Crawford said. “Look for us to get better as the year goes on.”

The Mustangs’ young roster features just 12 upperclassmen on the men’s side and 14 on the women’s.

Returning champions include senior James Nunno in the decathlon, junior Troy Swier in the 10 kilometers, senior Jessica Eggleston in the triple jump, sophomore Jenna Homes in the pole vault, senior Sharon Day in the high jump and sophomore Lea Wallace in the 800 meters.

Of Day, Crawford said, “Certainly she’s someone that we feel really sets the bar – no pun intended – this year for our track team.”

The Mustangs are also looking to improve their sprinting now that much of the women’s team has recovered from last year’s string of injuries and the men’s side will boast several new additions from the Cal Poly football team.

Fifty Mustangs will compete at Saturday’s invitational that also features teams from UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Los Angeles, Grand Valley State and East L.A. College.

Men’s soccer team to host UCLA in exhibition

The Cal Poly men’s soccer team will host an exhibition game against four-time national champion UCLA at 7 p.m. Saturday, the second time in program history that UCLA has played at Cal Poly.

It will be the second preseason installment in a series of exhibition games the men’s soccer team will host throughout the spring, following a closed-door scrimmage against the San Jose Earthquakes in late February.

“We made an indent in the national scene by beating (then defending national champion) UC Santa Barbara last fall,” said Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher. “The (record-setting) attendance (of 7,143) was extraordinary, and now our presence is being noted even more with exhibition games against top programs in the country this spring.

“We’re bringing these games to Poly in order to bring high-level soccer competition to the student body.”

Mustangs assistant coach Brian Reed also voiced excitement about what the development means for the surrounding area as a whole.

“We want to keep the San Luis Obispo community excited about soccer,” Reed said. “And the MLS showcase that we recently hosted proved that we have a wonderful base of soccer fans on the Central Coast.”

Cal Poly finished 11-4-4 overall this past fall, and took third place in the Big West Conference. The Mustangs coaching staff believes the exhibitions are good opportunities for players to gauge their skill levels against more fierce competition than they’d otherwise be exposed to during the regular season.

“We’ve got a lot of young players who need to play in these games to improve,” Holocher said. “These games allow them to gain confidence, experience and composure, especially against nationally recognized players who will be taken in MLS drafts.”

Others Cal Poly will host in exhibition are Santa Clara at 7 p.m. April 19 and Stanford at 7 p.m. April 26.

– Angela Marie Watkins and Aaron Gaudette contributed to this report.

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