FULLERTON – Junior guard Victor Joseph (above) chalked up his second 22-point performance in as many games, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program – after bridging an early double-digit deficit in the second half – was outdistanced Saturday evening by Cal State Fullerton inside Titan Gym, 81-71.
Senior guard Ridge Shipley added 14 points while sophomore guard Donovan Fields scored 11 for Cal Poly (6-15, 1-6), which forced Cal State Fullerton (9-11, 3-4) into 19 turnovers, but allowed a 54.3 (25-for-46) percent field goal mark to the Titans.
Cal Poly shot 42.9 (12-for-28) percent itself during the second half en route to deadlocking the matchup at 57-57 with nine minutes to play. The Mustangs, however, were held without a field goal for the next eight minutes.
Joseph, who also scored 22 points during Cal Poly's Thursday win at Big West leader UC Irvine, finished 9-for-10 from the free throw line Saturday.
The Big West's assist-to-turnover leader at 2.3-to-1, Shipley finished with a game high five assists against just one turnover in 26 minutes.
Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center to open a two-game home stand against UC Davis on Thursday, Feb. 2. Tip time is 8 p.m.
With five lead changes inside the opening 11 minutes Saturday, Cal State Fullerton wrested the game's first two-possession lead with a 9-0 run to go up 24-18 eight minutes before halftime.
Held to a 33.3 (8-for-24) percent field goal mark during the first half, Cal Poly cut its deficit to four points on three occasions before ultimately trailing 39-32 heading into the break.
Twice Cal State Fullerton opened 10-point leads early in the second half but, keyed by a pair of three-pointers from junior forward Luke Meikle and one from Joseph, Cal Poly utilized a 9-0 run to close its gap to 45-44 with 15-and-a-half minutes to play.
After the Titans twice ran their lead back to seven points, the Mustangs finally squared the matchup at 57-57 following Meikle's third three-pointer of the night.
Despite holding Cal State Fullerton to just one field goal during the ensuing three minutes, Cal Poly slipped back to a 65-58 deficit after the Titans drained six successive free throw attempts.
A Joseph three-pointer and pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions twice cut Cal State Fullerton's lead to four points. However, with the Mustangs still trailing 67-63 with four-and-a-half minutes to play, the Titans compiled a 6-0 run to establish another double-digit lead and place the game out of reach.