The Cal Poly men’s basketball program led Long Beach State by 14 points at halftime, trailed by as much as 12 in the second half and forced overtime with a three-pointer from sophomore guard Junior Ballard (part of his game high 25 points) with 0:00.7 seconds remaining in regulation before ultimately dropping an 80-73 overtime decision inside Walter Pyramid Thursday evening.
Freshman forward Kyle Colvin added 13 points for Cal Poly (7-22, 4-11 Big West), which trailed Long Beach State (11-20, 6-9), 62-56, with three minutes left in regulation before holding the 49ers to just one field goal the remainder of the second half. The Mustangs received two Ballard three-pointers down the stretch – the second from the top of the arc with under a second to play – and a layup from freshman forward Alimamy Koroma to force the program’s fourth overtime game since Jan. 30.
During overtime, each program scored on its opening three possessions. With the scoreline tied at 70-70, however, Long Beach State produced a 6-0 run composed of four free throws from guard Michael Carter III and a layup from guard Chase Morgan while holding Cal Poly to just one field goal the remainder of the evening.
Graduate guard Malek Harwell chipped in 11 points for Cal Poly while Koroma scored 10. Senior guard Job Alexander matched career highs with eight rebounds and six assists.
Despite Thursday’s loss, ninth-place Cal Poly remained in contention for a spot in the eight-team Big West Conference Tournament after eighth-place Cal State Fullerton dropped a 55-53 decision at UC Santa Barbara.
To qualify for the March 12-14 Big West Tournament, Cal Poly must win at UC Santa Barbara in Saturday’s 7 p.m. regular season finale and have Long Beach State win its Saturday matchup at Cal State Fullerton. That scenario would leave both Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton tied for eighth place with a 5-11 conference record. With both programs having lost twice to Big West regular season champion UC Irvine, the highest finishing program among CSUN or UC Santa Barbara (tied for second) or Hawai’i or UC Davis (tied for fourth) will determine who claims the No. 8 seed (based on Cal Poly or Cal State Fullerton’s regular season head-to-head results against the aforementioned four teams).
During Thursday’s matchup, Long Beach State was limited to a 1-for-9 shooting start and, with the Mustangs sinking three of their opening four three-point attempts, Cal Poly led after six minutes, 11-3.
Cal Poly, which held Long Beach State to a 29.2 (7-for-24) percent field goal mark in the first half, then kept the 49ers to just two field goals during an ensuing 10-minute span as the Mustangs furthered their lead to 31-14.
Colvin’s third three-pointer of the half stretched Cal Poly’s lead to 34-16 three minutes before the break. Cal Poly eventually took its largest halftime lead of the season (38-24) into the locker room.
Long Beach State, however, opened the second half with a 10-0 run that included a four-point play from guard Jordan Griffin to trim Cal Poly’s lead to 38-34 with 16-and-a-half minutes to play.
Koroma stemmed Long Beach State’s run with a layup, but the 49ers were aided by a three-pointer and jumper from Griffin on successive possessions to bring Cal Poly’s lead down to 41-39. The 49ers then received two free throws, a three-point play and a layup from guard Drew Cobb on three straight possessions to take a 46-41 lead. Griffin and guard Chance Hunter followed with free throws to run Long Beach State’s lead to 50-41.
-Provided by Cal Poly