ANAHEIM – Senior guard Victor Joseph scored a team leading 13 points in his last appearance for the Cal Poly men's basketball program Thursday evening, but a 19-2, first-half run from UC Santa Barbara helped the Gauchos eliminate the Mustangs from the Big West Conference Tournament with a 75-53 quarterfinal-round decision inside the Honda Center.
Joseph also grabbed a team high seven rebounds for seventh-seeded Cal Poly (9-22), which committed just seven turnovers Thursday and shot 91.7 (22-for-24) percent from the free throw line. Second-seeded UC Santa Barbara (23-8), however, shot 47.5 (29-for-61) percent from the floor in leading wire-to-wire.
During Thursday's matchup, UC Santa Barbara climbed out to an early 11-4 lead after knocking down three of its first four three-point attempts. Two early baskets from Joseph and two free throws from senior forward Luke Meikle helped Cal Poly cut its deficit to 13-8 with 15 minutes to play in the first half.
UC Santa Barbara, however, countered by closing the half with a 32-10 run. In keeping Cal Poly to just two field goals during the final 15 minutes, the Gauchos took a 45-18 lead into halftime.
A three-pointer from Joseph to begin the second half helped Cal Poly open with a 9-5 run to trim UC Santa Barbara's lead to 50-27.
Still trailing 60-29 with 12 minutes remaining, the Mustangs received points from six different players to produce a 13-0 run and close to a 60-42 deficit.
The Gauchos though received a dunk from forward Ami Lakoju and three-pointer by guard Leland King II to stem Cal Poly's comeback.
Despite Thursday's defeat, Cal Poly produced a handful of notable distinctions during the 2017-18 season.
Cal Poly's team free throw percentage of 78.0 (373-for-478) percent marked the second highest single season total in program history, trailing only the 1974-75 (78.3 percent) Mustang squad.
Junior guard Donovan Fields, ranked third among NCAA Division I players in free throw percentage, set a new single season program record with a 92.6 (75-for-81) percent mark.
Joseph, who averaged 13.2 career points per game in two seasons for Cal Poly, departs ranked seventh all-time in program history in free throw percentage with an 85.0 (164-for-193) mark.