NORTHRIDGE – Graduate guard Jamal Smith (above) scored a career high 19 points and junior forward Nolan Taylor finished with a season high 11, but the Cal Poly men's basketball program led just once at CSUN Thursday evening and dropped an 81-73 decision inside The Matadome.
Freshman guard Colby rogers also added 11 points for Cal Poly (7-17, 4-6 Big West), which led CSUN (11-16, 6-4) for just 49 seconds after Smith opened Thursday's scoring with a free throw. However, CSUN – which committed just six turnovers – scored the next seven en route to snapping Cal Poly's two-game winning run entering play.
With Thursday's loss, Cal Poly slipped into a sixth-place tie in the Big West Conference standings alongside UC Riverside (14-12, 4-6) and Cal State Fullerton (9-16, 4-6).
Cal Poly completes a two-game road trip at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Feb. 15. Tip time is 6 p.m. with action broadcasted via ESPN3.
During Thursday's matchup, Cal Poly trailed by as much as 23-8 with 10 minutes remaining in the opening period before holding CSUN to just five field goals the remainder of the half. Utilizing a 24-11 run, Cal Poly cut its halftime deficit to 34-32 after Smith hit a three-pointer at the buzzer from mid-court.
The Matadors, however, returned in the second half to record four of the first five buckets and extend their advantage to 42-34 with 17 minutes to play.
Cal Poly twice cut the gap to six points but, with the Mustangs facing a 45-39 deficit, the Matadors received a free throw from forward Lamine Diane before forward Festus Ndumanya sank a jumper and guard Elijah Harkless recorded a layup to reaffirm CSUN's double-digit lead.
Cal Poly closed within 10 points of CSUN's lead just twice the remainder of the night.