Senior guard David Nwaba throws down a dunk during Cal Poly's loss to St. Mary's to begin a six-game road trip in December. | Nha Ha/Courtesy Photo

The winter sports season is now in full swing with the start of conference play.

Men’s basketball is currently at a 6-8 record overall, with an early conference record of 0-1.

The Mustangs began their six-game road trip on Dec. 14 as they traveled to Saint Mary’s, losing to the Gaels 93-63.

“That was a tough game,” head coach Joe Callero said. “We had just finished finals up and had not played for nine days so we looked really rusty. They looked great.”

Later that week on Dec. 17, men’s basketball competed against the University of Southern California. The Mustangs fell short, with a loss of 101-82.

This was followed by yet another loss for the Mustangs as they traveled to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi on Dec. 20 and fell 80-74.

The Mustangs finally ended their three-game losing streak on Dec. 22, as they beat the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners 88-73.

Cal Poly led 51-26 at the end of the first half, with a 58.8 field goal percentage.

The Roadrunners came out in the second half hoping to bring the game closer, but with seven Mustangs ending the game in double-digit scoring figures, Cal Poly kept the game out of reach.

“We played great basketball and really blasted UTSA. We played our best game of the year there, offensively and defensively,” Callero said. “The players did a great job. They got refocused after losing three games and they came together.”

The men’s basketball team opened their Big Sky Conference play last Tuesday as they traveled to Hawaii to face the Warriors.

With the game tied 37-37 at the half, the two teams continued to play a close game going into the second half, until the Warriors went on an 11-2 run with 12 minutes on the clock, bringing the score to 61-51.

Hawaii came away with a win, giving the Mustangs their first conference loss of the season, 86-73.

The team finished their six-game road trip and is now preparing for the remainder of the season.

“For the rest of the season, I just want to continue our current direction as I expect us to continue to improve, I expect us to continue to play like a great team and to represent the school in a good way,” Callero said. “We’ve got a chance for a great conference run and a great postseason run.”

The Mustangs had a bye last Saturday and are currently at rest until they return to the court Thursday at 7 p.m. to face UC Santa Barbara in the Mott Athletic Center.

The Blue-Green Rivalry game is themed as a “Green Out“ game. According to Callero, the team will be giving out free green t-shirts to the first 400-500 students.

The women’s basketball team also competed over winter break, with a current overall record of 8-7 and a conference record of 1-1.

“The team is really excited about all the accomplishments and the progress that we have made this preseason,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “Four of our losses were to teams highly ranked so we feel good about how we’re progressing.”

The Mustangs started their winter break play against the Loyola Marymount Lions Dec. 12, winning the home game 70-58.

On Dec. 17, the team traveled to Saint Mary’s, playing a close overtime game against the Gaels.

Cal Poly led the first quarter with a 25-20 lead, continuing their momentum into the second quarter, ending with a 46-33 lead. The Gaels continued to fight back as they entered the fourth quarter tied 59-59.

Senior guard Lisa Marie Sanchez made a three-pointer with 19.3 seconds left in the game, tying the match at 75 and sending it into overtime.

Falling short to Saint Mary’s in their overtime battle, the game ended in an 87-83 loss.

The women’s basketball team faced a three game losing streak as they continued to fall short against their opponents. The Mustangs faced CSU Bakersfield with a tough loss, 57-52, on Dec. 19.

Traveling to face No. 7 Oregon State, the Mustangs fell short against the Beavers, losing 80-43 on Dec. 21.

The Mustangs bounced back, ending their losing streak with a 97-72 home victory against Sacramento State Dec. 29.

The team started conference play Jan. 7 against UC Santa Barbara, losing 78-67.

The women’s basketball team traveled to UC Irvine last Saturday where they beat the Anteaters with a final score of 72-54, marking Cal Poly’s first conference victory of the season.

Playing a close game, the Anteaters trailed behind the Mustangs 33-32 at the half.

The Mustangs changed the game at the second half, dominating the court by maintaining a double-digit lead all throughout the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Gabby Grupalo scored a record-high of 25 points in the game.

The team has already faced a series of difficulties this season with a few season ending injuries.

“Breezi Holt (guard) is done for the year and Zonyia Cormiér (guard) is (also) done for the year,” Mimnaugh said.

Despite the adversity, Mimnaugh sees positive outcomes.

“What looks like a curse can end up being a blessing,” Mimnaugh said. “We’ve had a very good point production off of our bench, which has really helped us be successful.”

The team is using this week to prepare for the remainder of their season.

“Our team has got their eye on the prize, trying to win a championship,” Mimnaugh said. “I think we’re one of the teams that has the potential to put it all together and surprise some people with a championship.”

The team’s next appearance will be Saturday at home against Cal State Fullerton.

The wrestling team competed in two tournaments over the break, first traveling to Reno. The Mustangs wrestled in the Reno Tournament of Champions exhibition, with 24 Cal Poly wrestlers competing against some of the nation’s top wrestling programs.

The Mustangs earned 26.5 points and tied for 16th place with Oregon State and Southern Oregon. No individual Cal Poly wrestlers placed in the tournament.

Wrestling’s second tournament took place in Chattanooga, Tenn. for the Southern Scuffle, where the team placed 27th overall out of 30 teams.

Wrestling returned to their regular dual meet schedule last Friday in their second Pac-12 Conference meet as they lost against CSU Bakersfield with a final score of 26-9.

The team currently stands 1-4 overall, and 0-2 in conference standings. It will face Duke on Sunday at home in Mott Athletic Center.

The women’s swimming and diving team is starting to plunge back into the pool, having competed against San Diego State Dec. 18. The Aztecs outswam the Mustangs 181-106.

The men’s and women’s teams will host UC Santa Cruz on Saturday for the Mustangs’ senior day.

All Cal Poly sports teams will continue to compete this week as they try to make a strong start to conference play.

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