BAKERSFIELD – Freshman guard Junior Ballard (above) scored a career high 21 points and grabbed a collegiate best six rebounds Tuesday evening, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program – after trailing CSU Bakersfield by 16 at halftime and quickly shaving the deficit to six – couldn't bridge the gap entirely and fell to the Roadrunners inside the Icardo Center, 74-61.
Sophomore wing Mark Crowe added 14 points to record his team leading seventh double-digit scoring game for Cal Poly (3-7), which trailed CSU Bakersfield (7-4) at halftime, 39-23. After shooting just 23.8 (5-for-21) percent during the first half, Cal Poly knocked down seven of its first nine attempts to begin the second, but never drew closer than six points.
In the first meeting between the two programs since Feb. 4, 2012, Cal Poly forced CSU Bakersfield into 16 turnovers. Cal Poly, however, committed 18 itself.
Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center to close its 2018 home schedule versus UTA on Friday, Dec. 21. Tip time is 7 p.m.
Cal Poly led Tuesday's matchup 5-0 after just 77 seconds, but CSU Bakersfield – which forced the Mustangs into six turnovers inside the opening six minutes – responded with a 12-0 run.
Still facing an 18-9 deficit at the 12-minute mark, the Mustangs received a three-pointer from guard Kuba Niziol and two free throws by fellow senior Donovan Fields to cut their gap to four. The Roadrunners, however, held Cal Poly to just two field goals during the final 10-and-a-half minutes of the opening half and took a 39-23 lead into the break.
Crowe opened the second half by scoring Cal Poly's initial eight points – including knocking down a pair of three-pointers inside the first two minutes. Ballard followed with his second three-pointer of the evening to trim CSU Bakersfield's lead to 44-34 with 15 minutes to go.
The Roadrunners broke Cal Poly's run through two free throws from guard Justin Edler-Davis, but Cal Poly hammered back through Crowe and Ballard once more with the former completing a three-point play and the latter knocking down another three-pointer to bring Cal Poly to a 46-40 deficit with 13-and-a-half to play.
That, however, was as close as the Mustangs closed. A three-pointer from guard Damiyne Durham brought CSU Bakersfield's lead back to nine points. Cal Poly moved within seven points of the Roadrunner advantage five times down the stretch with the final instance coming at 65-58 with 85 seconds to play after freshman forward Daxton Carr knocked down a three-pointer.