Junior guard Victor Joseph scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Cal Poly men’s basketball team during a 67-56 loss against UC Riverside in a Big West Conference matchup Saturday night at Mott Athletics Center.
It was the fourth consecutive 20-point performance for Joseph, who went 9-for-22 from the field and was the only Mustang to finish in double figures. With the loss, Cal Poly dropped to 7-16 overall and 2-7 against Big West opponents.
“Hats off to them tonight,” head coach Joe Callero said. “I thought a couple of their guys stepped up and made really big plays for them.”
How it happened:
The visiting Highlanders (7-14, 5-4 Big West) used a decisive 17-0 run early in the second half to swing the momentum in their favor and built a 44-35 advantage with 13:33 remaining. They would put the game away with another 12-0 run in the final four minutes.
“You could feel the energy in our team get sucked out of that,” Callero said of the 17-0 surge. “That’s one of the major parts that I’m most concerned with our team is just to remember that the reason we were ahead in the first half, is we held them to 25 points.”
The Mustangs would rally to within 54-53 but couldn’t close out an aggressive UC Riverside team, which won the second half by 14 points. Cal Poly attempted a season-high 37 shots from behind the 3-point line, making 10.
After falling into an eight-point deficit with 8:31 to go in the first half, Cal Poly went on a 14-3 run to take a 28-25 lead at halftime. Of the 29 field goals the Mustangs attempted in the opening half, 18 were from behind the 3-point line.
Who stood out:
Senior forward Zach Gordon was a force inside, pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds, two shy of his career-high set earlier this season against UC Davis.
Senior guard Ridge Shipley scored nine points to go with six rebounds and four assists. Senior guard Kyle Toth added eight points and Donovan Fields scored seven points off the bench before fouling out in 14 minutes.
Freshman point guard Dikymbe Martin lead UC Riverside with 17 points, three rebounds and three assists. Brandon Rosser added 16 points and Menno Dijkstra scored 11 off the bench.
“When the Dijkstra kid, 7-footer, stepped out and the threes,” Callero said, “that felt like the emotional swing really hit us.”
The Mustangs have one game schedule for next week, a matchup with Hawaii at 9 p.m. Thursday in Honolulu. Cal Poly will play at CSUN on Feb. 15 and return home for a rematch with Hawaii on Feb. 18.