The Cal Poly men’s basketball team saw its 10-game losing streak come to an end in surprising fashion Thursday night at Bren Events Center.
Eight days after suffering a 22-point defeat at home against first-place UC Irvine, the Mustangs returned the favor with a resilient performance and secured their first Big West Conference win this season.
Junior guard Victor Joseph scored a game-high 22 points in leading Cal Poly to a 79-66 victory, its first at UC Irvine since the 2011-12 season. The Mustangs (6-14, 1-5 Big West) committed only five turnovers, including one in the second half, and shot 52.6 percent from the field.
“When you’re on a losing streak, you can’t worry about how many games you’ve lost or whatever,” head coach Joe Callero told Cal Poly play-by-play announcer Chris Sylvester following the game. “You worry about making the right play, getting into that moment.”
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UC Irvine (13-10, 6-1 Big West) lost for the first time in nine games, but still holds a two-game lead over UC Davis for first place in the conference standings. The Anteaters made five of their 20 attempts from behind the 3-point line, and made only six trips to the free-throw line, compared with 18 for Cal Poly.
Senior center Ioannis Dimakopoulos, who had a double-double in the first meeting with 19 points and 10 rebounds, was limited to 13 points on 6-for-17 shooting, to go with three rebounds.
Mustangs sophomore guard Donovan Fields scored 15 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Senior point guard Ridge Shipley added 12 points and three assists, and junior forward Luke Meikle contributed 10 points and six rebounds in the victory.
When UC Irvine pulled ahead 49-45 with less than 14 minutes remaining, the Mustangs responded with an 11-0 run to regain control. Joseph scored seven points during the surge, and Cal Poly’s lead eventually swelled to 16 points down the stretch.
“I just knew we were going to come out and fight,” Joseph told gopoly.com. “Coach been saying it in practice all week, we’re going to come over here and beat Irvine. We had it in our head. We had a good game plan and we executed it.”
The Mustangs are scheduled to play Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m. Saturday, a game that will be televised on ESPN3. When the two teams met in San Luis Obispo on Jan. 12, Tre’ Coggins scored a career-high 34 points during an 87-74 victory.