SAN LUIS OBISPO – Sophomore forward Alimamy Koroma (16 points) and freshman guard Camren Pierce (15) each produced new career scoring highs, but the Cal Poly men’s basketball program – after leading Santa Clara by 10 points at halftime – dropped a 76-69 decision to the Broncos Wednesday evening inside Mott Athletics Center.
Freshman guard Kobe Sanders matched his career scoring best with 16 points for Cal Poly (1-2), which led Santa Clara (5-0) at half, 43-33. The Broncos, however, outscored Cal Poly to open the second half, 28-11. Cal Poly, playing game No. 3 of its season-opening, five-game home stand, committed just eight turnovers. The Mustangs, however, were limited to a 37.3 (22-for-59) percent field goal mark and, after sinking five first-half three-pointers, converted just two of 12 opportunities during the second half.
Freshman forward Dyson Koehler led Cal Poly with six rebounds.
The matchup marked Santa Clara’s third all-time visit to San Luis Obispo and the program’s first victory inside Mott Athletics Center.
Cal Poly continues its five-game home stand versus San Jose State on Sunday, Dec. 13 (1 p.m.) and concludes the stand on Wednesday, Dec. 16 against San Diego (3 p.m.).
Sanders helped open Wednesday’s matchup by sinking three-pointers on early back-to-back possessions and Koroma followed with a layup to hand Cal Poly a 10-4 advantage after four-and-a-half minutes.
Santa Clara twice trimmed Cal Poly’s first-half lead to two points, but with Cal Poly shooting 50.0 (13-for-26) percent from the floor and 45.5 (5-for-11) percent from three-point range in the opening period, the Mustangs led by as much as 41-26 before taking a 43-33 advantage into the break.
Santa Clara, however, opened the second half with a 13-3 run to tie the matchup, 46-46. Cal Poly stemmed the run with a Koroma layup before Pierce knocked down jumpers on back-to-back possessions to hand the Mustangs a 52-46 advantage with 13 minutes to play.
The Broncos then kept Cal Poly without a field goal for an ensuing five-and-a-half-minute span. Freshman forward Brantly Stevenson snapped the offensive drought with a three-pointer that lowered Santa Clara’s lead to 61-57, but that was as close as Cal Poly closed down the stretch.
With Cal Poly still facing a 65-61 deficit and four minutes to go, Santa Clara scored on three successive possessions to place the game out of reach.