Senior forward Chris Eversley poured in a game-high 25 points, but the men’s basketball team fell 79-62 at Stanford on Sunday.
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The Cal Poly men’s basketball team added another chapter to its brutal non-conference schedule on Sunday afternoon.
In a familiar result, the Mustangs dropped their seventh road matchup in eight games this season as they fell 79-62 to Stanford at Maples Pavilion.
The game marked the penultimate contest of Cal Poly’s season-long four-game road trip when the Mustangs faced a Stanford squad which upset No. 10 Connecticut on Dec. 18.
But Cal Poly (4-8) has grown accustomed to quality opponents. The Mustangs play 11 games this season against programs that qualified for postseason play a year ago, including Stanford, which features nine players that stand at least 6 feet 8 inches tall.
“I don’t think we’re intimidated by the environment anymore,” head coach Joe Callero said. “I think we’re just getting used to the speed, quickness and length. It’s flat out just better players, better length, better athletic ability, better teams right now.”
The Mustangs created plenty of opportunities in the first half when they notched 35 field goal attempts against Stanford’s 25. But the Cardinal took advantage of their opportunities, shooting 56 percent from the floor while Cal Poly sank only nine of those 35 shots.
“What we have a difficult time with is scoring on a consistent basis against that length,” Callero said. “You have open shots, a dive to the basket, a shot off the backboard. We’ve got to be able to finish those and get our percentage up around 45 percent instead of 35 percent.”
Forward Dwight Powell, who has averaged 18.5 points per game over 11 games this season, led the charge for Stanford with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. The Cardinal finished with a handful of double-digit scorers, including Josh Huestis, Stefan Nastic and Chasson Randle.
Cal Poly remained within striking distance for the better part of the first frame as the Mustangs pushed the score to 7-6 eight minutes in. The Mustangs couldn’t capitalize though, as Stanford broke away to finish the half with a 30-23 lead.
“We knew in order to win this game — or even have a chance — we had to make shots,” forward Chris Eversley said. “In that stretch I feel as though we had a lot of good looks. In time those (shots) will fall.”
Though Cal Poly improved its field goal percentage to 47 percent in the second half, Stanford also improved and finished the night at 58 percent.
“Teams like that, they can block shots, they can jump over us,” sophomore forward Joel Awich said. “So we’re going to have to be more physical. They did really well down low. They obviously dominated.”
Eversley recorded his eighth double-digit scoring performance of the season and his 42nd at Cal Poly. The preseason All-Big West Conference selection recorded a game-high and season-high 25 points.
Awich also had a big night as he tallied a career-high 11 points before fouling out.
“Joel has been the guy who’s been able to find the best opportunity to give us a spark,” Callero said. “I think he knows that he can do this and I think he’s getting more excited about it. I think he’s falling in love with the game.”
Under Callero, Cal Poly is now 2-7 against Pac-12 Conference opponents. The Mustangs lost to then-No.5 Arizona and No. 14 Oregon earlier this season.
The Mustangs cap off their non-conference schedule on Saturday Jan. 4 at Delaware. Big West Conference play commences on Jan. 9, as Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center to host Hawaii.
“When we’re playing in Mott you can make a mistake or two and use the energy of the crowd to come running back,” Callero said. “What we’re learning to do is trying to be a more consistent team on the road where we can finish those interior shots and limit the other team’s interior baskets.”
Cal Poly owns a 14-game win streak against conference opponents at home.
“We knew in the preseason it was going to be tough,” Eversley said. “We went against the strength, length and athleticism that these guys have. Us playing our third Pac-12 team tonight really will help us going out to Delaware and then as we start with Hawaii in conference.”