The Big West Tournament win snapped an 18-game losing streak for Cal Poly. Credit: Courtesy | Cal Poly Athletics, Ian Billings

Cal Poly Men’s Basketball picked up its first win in 2023 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Big West Tournament after a 88-68 win in the opening round over Long Beach State on Tuesday, March 8 inside the Dollar Loan Center.

The Mustangs (8-21, 1-18 Big West) bullied the Beach (17-16, 11-9 Big West) down low, scoring 32 points in the paint.

Cal Poly started the game by jumping out to an early lead, spearheaded by senior center Alimamy Koroma and junior guard Brantly Stevenson, opening the game up 15-10.

Long Beach State then woke up and went on an instant 6-0 run to take the lead and force Mustang head coach John Smith to call a timeout.

That would not stop the Beach, as they continued to chip away at the Mustangs and push their lead to as much as six before the four-minute media timeout.

Coming out of the media timeout, a quick three by the Beach pushed the lead to the highest of the half at nine points, although the Mustangs whittled it down to five to make it 40-35 in favor of Long Beach State heading into the half.

Stevenson entered the half as the leading scorer for the game with 15 points, while graduate guard Nick Fleming had 10 points at the break.

Coming out of half time Cal Poly quickly fought back, taking the lead on a jumper by Stevenson early in the second half.

A three-pointer soon after by senior guard Trevon Taylor gave Cal Poly control of the game for the rest of the way.

The Beach kept it close until a 13-3 Mustang run with 10 minutes to play blew the game open and gave Cal Poly a 12-point lead.

Long Beach Coach Dan Monson employed a full court trap on the Mustangs with eight minutes remaining, and at first it looked like it wouldn’t cause any trouble.

However, Long Beach State managed three straight turnovers, but was unable to translate those turnovers into anything more than two free throws.

The Mustangs regained their composure and refused to let the massive lead slip away, ending up pushing the lead all the way to 20 points while cruising to victory.

The game was won in the second half, as Cal Poly outscored Long Beach State 53-28 and shot 17-of-27 (62.96%) from the field while holding the beach to 9-of-32 (28.13%).

On top of this, the Mustangs outrebounded the Beach 41 to 29 and shot a scorching hot 50% from both the field and from beyond the arc for the entirety of the game.

Individually, Stevenson led the way with 28 points, while Fleming followed with 26 of his own off the bench. Junior point guard Camren Pierce had everything working, tallying 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Cal Poly will keep dancing on Thursday, March 9 at 6 p.m. against Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara back inside the Dollar Loan Center.