Cal Poly Women’s Basketball snapped a four-game losing streak with a 69-58 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Through an all-around team effort in scoring, the Mustangs (5-18, 2-10 Big West) broke out in the second half to take down the Titans (12-12, 4-7), who had just ended their own six-game losing streak.
“After that Thursday game, it was tough for us,” Vesela said, referencing the Mustangs’ loss in double overtime on Thursday, Feb. 21. “We were all sad and kind of mad, but that fueled us for this game.”
The matchup against Cal State Fullerton remained scoreless for the first 3:30, until Cal Poly broke out to a 4-0 lead after a layup by senior center Devin Stanback and a jump shot by junior forward Hana Vesela.
The Titans went on a scoring run to take a 6-4 lead. Sophomore guard Malia Holt broke up the run to even the score and added a layup to give the Mustangs a 10-8 lead. A three-pointer by the Titans’ Hannah Thompson gave Cal State Fullerton a 11-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Junior forward Alicia Roufosse opened the scoring in the second quarter to retake the lead for the Mustangs at 12-11. Cal State Fullerton kept firing from beyond the arc, stringing three three-pointers to continue to contest Cal Poly’s lead. Freshman guard Maddie Willet’s jumper pushed the Mustangs’ lead to 21-17 with 5:40 until halftime. Another three-pointer by Thompson helped the Titans cut the Mustangs’ lead down to 28-27 at halftime.
“The third quarter has been a problem for us, but I think we really adjusted,” Vesela said. “I think it was the energy. We just really wanted to come out strong and to make a statement, and we did.”
The Mustangs held the Titans scoreless while building a 9-0 run in the opening 2:30 of the second half. Cal State Fullerton finally got on the board with 7:11 left in the quarter, but Vesela responded to maintain the Mustangs’ lead at 39-29.
“In the second half i was focused on being open and finding windows and other teammates for their shots,” Vesela said. “It was really nice to be up there and being hyped.”
Back-and-forth scoring allowed the Titans to close the Mustangs’ lead to 43-36 with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter. Titan guard Raina Perez made two layups in the Titans’ 6-1 run to cut the Mustangs’ lead down to just 44-40 at the end of the third quarter.
However, Cal Poly pulled away again in the fourth quarter. Vesela opened the scoring with a jumper for a 46-40 Cal Poly lead. Vesela added two more jump shots to build a 54-45 lead with 7:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Mustangs never looked back. Cal Poly held its largest lead of 13 points with 4:30 left in the game. Vesela and Roufosse both scored 10 points each in the final frame, as Cal Poly took the 69-58 win.
“It was pretty fast-paced but it was just a lot of fun, going in there, playing my game and trying to contribute as much as I can to help us win,” Roufosse said. “I was just enjoying every moment of it.”
Roufosse lead the Mustangs and tied her career-high with 17 points. She went 6-12 from the field and picked up seven rebounds coming off the bench for the Mustangs.
“I was just seeing a lot of open looks,” Roufosse said.” It was from quick ball rotations and all the players were being really selfless, making that extra pass so that really helped me get open.”
The Mustangs outscored the Titans 41-31 in the second half. Cal Poly’s highest point total in 10 games was due to contributions from all across the roster. Nine of the 11 Cal Poly players got on the score sheet.
“When you have the points spread, shared, amongst different players, then they’re all figuring out ways that they can make their contributions,” Minaugh said. “No one is forcing the ball, that is really what I felt was obvious today, that we had really good flow.”
The win moves Cal Poly into a tie for last place in the Big West Conference with UC Santa Barbara (6-20, 3-10). Looking to take the last spot in the Big West Tournament, the Mustangs will travel to play the Gauchos in a must-win matchup on Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.