The Cal Poly women’s basketball team snapped a six-game losing streak this Wednesday, Nov. 28, after defeating Eastern Washington in a close 59-55 victory. After starting the season with a 87-65 win over the Academy of Art University, Cal Poly lost six games in a row, recording its longest losing streak since 2011.
“We have been working hard, everything finally came together, we did everything they asked of us and we came out with a [win],” senior point guard Dye Stahley said.
Both teams started off shakily, missing most of their shots in the first quarter. The Mustangs only made 35 percent of their field goal attempts, slightly better than Eastern Washington’s 33.3 field goal shooting percentage. The game was tied at 12-12 by the end of the first quarter.
The Mustangs pulled ahead thanks to a strong defensive effort. They caused 18 turnovers and scored 19 points off of them, holding the Eagles to only 28 percent from the field, while shooting 41 percent themselves.
Cal Poly was able to make a late run in the second quarter and outscored Eastern Washington 15-9. The Mustangs led the Eagles 27-21 at the end of the first half.
The Mustangs carried their defensive skills into the third quarter, holding the Eagles to a 9-point quarter once again. Cal Poly outscored Eastern Washington 14-9 in the quarter and held a comfortable 41-30 point lead going into the fourth.
However, momentum changed quickly at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Eagles started to show a full-court press, which generated back-to-back Cal Poly turnovers. Cal Poly had a total of 19 turnovers in the whole game.
With seven minutes remaining in the quarter, the Eagles cut the lead down to 5 points at 41-36. Eastern Washington, at one point, even cut the lead down to 2 points with the tremendous 26-point game by guard Violet Morrow.
“[Morrow] went off and had 26 points, but we were able to contain the rest of them and that helped us get the win,” senior center Devin Stanback said.
Stahley’s back-to-back steals also prevented the Eagles from ever getting the lead. Stahley and Stanback made clutch layups late in the quarter, helping the Mustangs hold a 54-50 lead. The Mustangs lived in the paint, with 30 of their 59 points coming inside of it.
“I think [Malia Holt] and [Katie Nunnelley] especially did a very good job of handling the pressure and getting fouled,” Stahley said. “It was exciting to see other people being able to break the press and get going so we [could] get some easy looks.”
Sophomore guard Malia Holt hit both of her free throws to seal the game with 18 seconds remaining.
Despite Eastern Washington’s hard-fought comeback, Cal Poly remained composed and held on to a 59-55 victory.
“I was really proud of the team,” Stahley said. “They did not fold. They did not bend.”
The game was played in front of a crowd mainly consisting of elementary and middle school students since it was Field Trip Day at Cal Poly. Stahley said she was excited to have the kids at the game.
“The kids were so fun,” Stahley said. “I am not a super tall athletic player, so I am able to relate to them in that I am just a regular person. Maybe they will think, ‘one day I can come in and play Division-1 basketball.’ That is really what I want to show them.”
Stahley proved her point, as she had a career-high of 19 points and a game-high four assists to help lead the Mustangs to the four-point victory.
Stanback added 15 points and 7 rebounds of her own to help the Mustangs pick up their second win of the season.
The Mustangs will play their last home game of non-conference play against the Saint Mary’s Gaels (3-2) on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in Mott Athletics Center.