SANTA CLARA – Sophomore guard Junior Ballard (above) finished with a team high 17 points and freshman forward Kyle Colvin added 11 in his collegiate debut Friday evening, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program dropped its 2019-20 regular season opening game versus Santa Clara inside the Leavey Center, 77-63.
Sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakkola finished with eight points for Cal Poly (0-1), which cut its second-half deficit versus the Broncos to seven points three times, but drew no closer. Cal Poly committed just six turnovers during the second half, but Santa Clara (2-0) knocked down 23 of 28 free throw attempts during the final 20 minutes to keep the Mustangs at a distance.
Six different Mustangs made their Cal Poly debuts Friday evening with each scoring his first points for the program.
Colvin and junior guard Keith Smith each grabbed a team high seven rebounds for Cal Poly, which saw a three-game winning streak versus Santa Clara snapped.
Cal Poly continues its season-opening road trip at 2019 NCAA Tournament qualifier and defending Summit League Tournament champion North Dakota State (1-1) on Monday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. PT (1 p.m. CT). Monday's matchup marks the Cal Poly program's first game in the state of North Dakota.
Santa Clara scored 11 of the opening 13 points Friday evening, but a 9-0 run from the Mustangs – kickstarted with Colvin converting a three-point play to record his first collegiate points – brought Cal Poly level after seven minutes, 11-11.
Cal Poly briefly overtook the Broncos at 16-13 following a three-pointer from junior wing Mark Crowe with 10-and-a-half minutes remaining before the break.
Locked up at 18-18 a minute later, however, Santa Clara produced a 13-3 run to take the evening's first double-digit lead four minutes before the break. Still trailing late, 33-23, Cal Poly received a Colvin three-pointer with 11 seconds left to cut the gap to seven points at halftime.
Cal Poly then closed within seven points of Santa Clara's lead three times early in the second half with the final instance coming at 46-39 following a Ballard layup with 11 minutes to play.
Santa Clara, however, answered with a layup from forward Josip Vrankic and three-pointer by forward Willie Caruso to reaffirm a double-digit lead.
Photo courtesy of Owen Main