The Cal Poly men’s basketball team already knew it was the No. 2 seed going into the Big West Conference Tournament before a 49-43 loss at rival UC Santa Barbara in the season finale Saturday.
Now, the Mustangs (15-14, 10-6 Big West) know who they will be matched up with in the first two rounds, and it won’t be regular-season conference champion Long Beach State or the Gauchos (15-13, 8-8 Big West).
The two teams that swept Cal Poly in conference play are on the opposite side of the bracket, not that Mustangs head coach Joe Callero had noticed.
“I’d say the biggest thing is you have to play one game at a time,” Callero said. “You start looking ahead at those games and who’s in what bracket, your season is over. We have to be ready for Riverside. We have a one-game season.”
The Mustangs will play No. 7 UC Riverside at the Honda Center in Anaheim at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The winner will play either No. 3 Cal State Northridge or No. 6 Cal State Fullerton on Friday at 9 p.m.
In the low-scoring loss to UC Santa Barbara, David Hanson had a team-high 12 points and six rebounds. Chris O’Brien had nine points and five rebounds, and Will Donahue grabbed 10 rebounds to go with seven points.
James Nunnally had a game-high 14 points for UC Santa Barbara, which also got 12 points from Jaime Serna. Seven-foot-two center Greg Somojyi had just four points but played a key defensive role for the Gauchos, collecting six blocks in just 18 minutes.
Big West scoring leader Orlando Johnson (20.3 points per game) was held to just six points on 2-for-9 shooting from the field.
Callero said the focus all week was on limiting Johnson, and in a game characterized by lengthy scoring droughts, Cal Poly shot 25.4 percent from the field (16 of 63).
“We spent the week trying to work on how to play against a player of Orlando’s scoring ability,” Callero said, “how to double him early in good position on the court to get the ball out of his hand early.
“What we probably did neglect was the time necessary to polish our offensive game.”
The Mustangs no longer lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, but Cal Poly came into the week in the top six among 336 ranked Division I teams in the nation in scoring defense (eighth, 58.8 ppg) and 3-point defense (third, 27.8 percent).
UC Santa Barbara was only 4 for 20 from beyond the arc Saturday. Even in defeat, Callero’s first reflection on the regular season was the success the team had once it bought in to being a low-scoring defensive-minded group.
“I’m confident that my philosophy approaching the game has been validated a bit, that we’re going to hang our hat on defensive principles,” said Callero, who coached the Mustangs to a new program best for Big West victories.
Cal Poly 11, Valparaiso 0
The Mustangs (3-6) lit up the scoreboard in the third inning when they plated seven runs on eight hits, including a two-run double by Bobby Crocker that capped the scoring in the inning.
Cal Poly added three more runs in the fourth inning on only one hit, taking advantage of two errors by Valparaiso. The only hit of the inning was a David Armendariz RBI double with one out.
Mike Miller, who has hit .577 through the first nine games, went 2 for 5 with a run.
Kyle Anderson pitched six scoreless innings for the Mustangs, giving up five hits and striking out four.
Hartnell 11, Cuesta 7
The Cougars (8-6) managed seven runs on just three hits, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 11 hits and 11 runs by the Panthers.
Hartnell scored all of their runs in the first three innings, forcing Cuesta to use three different pitchers in the process.
LeBronze Sanderson had two of the three Cougar hits.
TRACK AND FIELD
Cal Outdoor Opener
Cal Poly had five individual wins and five second-place finishes in its outdoor season debut in the nonscoring meet.
On the men’s side Cal Poly had wins from Jamison Johnson in the 100 (10.67 seconds), and Daniel Ginia in the 3,000 (8 minutes, 20.17 seconds).
On the women’s side, Lia Rivers-Birt won the 400 hurdles (1:03.56), Rebecca Paddack took the 3,000 in 9:34.72 while teammates Jenny Bergren and LeAnne Fogg finished third and fourth, respectively, and Jasmine Pickett won the triple jump at 39 feet, 10 inches.
Cal Poly 7, UC Riverside 0
Cal Poly (6-2) didn’t lose a set and rolled over UC Riverside (2-10).
Andre Dome won 6-0, 6-0 in singles and teamed with Alexander Sonesson for an 8-6 doubles win. Sonesson won his singles matches 6-2, 6-2.
BYU 5, Cal Poly 0
Kim Westlund was 2 for 3, and Jillian Andersen was 2 for 2 with a walk but Cal Poly (2-15) fell at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego.
Cougars pitcher Paige Affleck threw a complete game, four-hit shutout, walking one and striking out five.
Cal Poly played a late game against UCLA but results were unavailable at The Tribune’s press time.
Pac 10 Championships
Cal Poly’s 400-meter freestyle relay team finished with a time of 2:58.66, breaking the school record of 2:59.33 while finishing sixth in Long Beach.
The relay team consisted of Peter Kline, Aaron McKinnon, David LaFlamme and Chase Nick.
Kline finished third in the 200 backstroke B finals, placing 11th overall in 1:45.98.
The Mustangs finished with 158 points, placing them seventh. Stanford took the team title with 911 points, and Cal finished second with 864.