The Cal Poly men’s basketball team squandered a 15-point second-half lead Saturday night on the road against rival UC Santa Barbara and fell 58-53 at The Thunderdome, the Mustangs’ eighth consecutive loss.
A 17-0 Gaucho run ultimately doomed the Mustangs despite holding a lead most of the night. Santa Barbara (3-12 overall, 1-2 conference) broke a three-game losing streak for its first Big West Conference win.
Cal Poly (5-12, 0-3) sophomore guard Donovan Fields scored a game high 15 points, and junior forward Luke Meikle added nine points.
The Mustangs shot 52.2 (12-for-23) percent during the first half but were held to a 26.7-percent mark (8-for-30) during the second. UC Santa Barbara, meanwhile, shot 42.9 (12-for-28) percent from the floor in the second half and, after missing their first 11 three-point attempts of the night, the Gauchos knocked down their final two to help complete the comeback.
Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center and opens a two-game home stand Wednesday against UC Irvine.
Held to one basket during the opening five minutes, Cal Poly overturned an early deficit with a 14-2 run as the Mustangs grabbed a 17-10 lead 10 minutes prior to halftime.
Cal Poly then limited the Gauchos to just one basket during a seven-and-a-half stretch midway through the first half. The Mustangs led 35-24 at the break after junior guard Josh Mishler sank Cal Poly’s sixth 3-pointer of the half with three seconds remaining.
The Mustangs chalked up the first two baskets of the second half to build their 15-point cushion. The Gauchos responded with a 6-0 run to cut their deficit to single digits, but UC Santa Barbara failed to break the nine-point barrier until a Powell layup brought the hosts to a 46-39 disadvantage with eight minutes remaining.
Gaucho guard Eric Childress then followed with a layup and guard Max Heidegger knocked down two free throws before Powell hit a three-pointer — UC Santa Barbara’s first of the night — to tie the score at 46-46 with six minutes to go.
Two Childress free throws eventually completed the 17-0 run that gave UC Santa Barbara the 52-46 lead with three minutes to play.