Cal Poly Women’s Basketball fell to Saint Mary’s College by a score of 69-51 on Dec. 1 inside Mott Athletics Center.
While junior forward Alicia Roufosse and senior forward Katie Nunnelley led the Mustangs’ attack with 10 points each, their efforts were not enough to overcome Saint Mary’s shooting accuracy. The Gaels registered a 51 percent success rate from the three-point range, scoring 15 of their 29 attempts.
Cal Poly fell behind in the early game after failing to capitalize on shooting opportunities in the first quarter. After a field goal from senior forward Devin Stanback put the Mustangs on the scoreboard, the Gaels responded with a 8-0 scoring run behind three-point shots from Jasmine Forcadilla and Emily Codding. While Stanback registered another three points before the end of the quarter, Saint Mary’s held their lead, concluding the quarter at 13-5.
At the beginning of the second quarter, both teams traded points in an effort to take control of the half. Cal Poly looked to be on the comeback after closing their deficit to only four points with field goals from Stanback and Roufosse.
However, with four minutes left until halftime, Saint Mary’s forward Madeline Holland rallied a 6-0 scoring run on her own, followed by a deep three-point shot from Forcadilla, bringing the first half score to 27-14.
In the third quarter, Cal Poly once again threatened a comeback. After both teams were able to score in the opening minutes, the Mustangs broke away on an eight-point scoring drive assisted by four players. The result was a deficit of nine points, the closest Cal Poly would come to regaining the lead for the night. Saint Mary’s responded to the loss of momentum with a decisive 11-2 scoring run, successfully extending their lead over the Mustangs to 18 points by the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. As the Mustangs attempted to close the scoring gap, they were restrained by Saint Mary’s pinpoint accuracy from the three-point range. While Roufosse and Nunnelley each registered a pair of layups, the Gaels dropped six three-pointers in the quarter – three of which from Saint Mary’s freshman Taycee Wedin.
Freshman guard Gianna Silvestri registered two three-point shots as well as a layup after being subbed into the game with four minutes remaining, but the spark came too late as the match concluded with a final score of 66-51.
After the loss, head coach Faith Mimnaugh provided insight as to where she believes the game went wrong.
“One of our strategies at the beginning of the game was to try and limit their playmakers as much as we could, so our focus was largely on trying to eliminate the scoring from their big post players,” Mimnaugh said. “As a consequence, we were involved a lot in help-side and trying to get double teams on them, which then opened up three-point shooting for the rest of the players on their team. That ended up, in my opinion, being the difference in the game.”
In total, the Gaels registered 23 turnovers – more than twice the number of Cal Poly’s 11 turnovers. However, Saint Mary’s could not be stopped from the three-point range, scoring 15 three-point shots compared to the Mustangs four.
Roufosse and Nunnelley ended the game with ten points each followed by Stanbacks’ nine. Roufosse, who was returning from an ankle injury sustained during Cal Polys 74-51 loss against Illinois on Nov. 23, stands in eighth in the conference in rebounding.
“It’s been kind of tough because I haven’t practiced and then just came to play in this game because it felt good enough,” Roufosse said. “So that was great, but it’s always tough going through an injury and just trying not to focus on that, but focus on what you can do for the team.”
While the beginning of the season has been difficult for the Mustangs, they are looking forward to the arrival of an experienced player in 6’4” junior power forward Hana Vesela on Dec. 17. After playing for the Czech Republic U-20 program at the 2016 FIBA European Championship, Vesela helped Michigan State reach the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore.
“Hana is a player of the year type player,” Mimnaugh said. “Having another scorer on the court is going to be opening up a lot of things for other players, so we’re very eager to have her.”
Following the defeat against Saint Mary’s, the Mustangs will take a two-week break covering final exams before traveling to defending WAC Tournament champion Seattle U on Dec. 17.
With such a packed schedule during the month of November, Mimnaugh said the attention was constantly centered on the next opponent instead of being on the development of the team. The break will provide an opportunity for the team to direct all their attention to themselves.
“We’re really glad that we’ve got a couple weeks to really focus on us,” Mimnaugh said. “I’m hoping that we can sharpen up a lot of areas and have a stronger understanding about who we are, our identity, and what we’re going to be doing on the court.”