SAN LUIS OBISPO – Junior forward Tuukka Jaakkola led three Mustangs in double-digit scoring figures with a season best 12 points Saturday evening, but the Cal Poly men’s basketball program closed its two-game series versus UC Santa Barbara and the 2020-21 regular season with a 70-54 loss inside The Thunderdome.
Senior guard Keith Smith added 11 points and sophomore guard Colby Rogers had 10 for Cal Poly (3-19, 1-15), which led Big West Conference regular season champion UC Santa Barbara (19-4, 13-3) for most the first half before trailing by seven at the break. The Mustangs kept the Gauchos to a 32.0 (8-for-25) percent mark from three-point range, but committed 16 turnovers.
Already seeded 10th for the Big West Tournament entering the UC Santa Barbara series, Cal Poly opens postseason play against No. 7 Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, March 9. Tip time from the Michelob ULTRA Arena inside Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas is 6 p.m. UC Santa Barbara, meanwhile, will be the tournament’s No. 1 seed, receiving a bye into the Thursday, March 11 quarterfinal round.
A Smith jumper with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the opening half helped Cal Poly equal its largest lead of the afternoon at 22-16. Cal Poly, however, was limited to just one field goal the remainder of the half as UC Santa Barbara closed the period with a 15-2 run to take a 31-24 lead into the break.
The Gauchos then scored the first three baskets of the second half to increase their advantage to 37-24 with 17 minutes remaining.
UC Santa Barbara still led 41-28 with 14 minutes to go when Cal Poly put together a 10-0 run to shorten the deficit to just three points. Twice more Cal Poly closed the gap to three points but, with the Mustangs facing a 46-43 disadvantage with eight minutes left on the clock, UC Santa Barbara scored 10 of the next 12 points to place the lead back into double-digit territory.
- Chris Giovannetti, Assistant Athletics Communications Director