Late run sparks Mustangs’ comeback against Anteaters
The Cal Poly women’s basketball team stormed back from a double-digit deficit on the strength of a 13-0 run to defeat UC Irvine 79-76 at Mott Athletics Center Thursday night.
Cal Poly (9-8, 3-2 Big West) was able to get the dramatic win over UC Irvine (10-8, 2-2 Big West) and move into second place in the Big West Conference standings. Senior guard Dynn Leaupepe led the Mustangs with a game-high 26 points while senior guard Kelly Wong added 16 points on a 5-5 shooting clip to go along with her five steals. UC Irvine’s junior guard Morgan Green finished with 24 points respectively.
The Mustangs jumped out to an 8-0 run to start the game after Leaupepe hit three jump shots before the Anteaters eventually scored nearly halfway through the first quarter. However, UC Irvine closed the quarter strong after Green’s layup brought the score within three points.
The Mustangs went on another run to start the second quarter before UC Irvine responded midway through the quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman guard Autumn Baumgartner, making it a one possession game with the score at 25-22. Although Cal Poly would reach a double digit lead before the end of the half, the Anteaters kept the score close at 43-38 heading into the second half.
After both teams traded baskets at the beginning of the second half, UC Irvine eventually tied the game at 52 midway through the third quarter after freshman guard Haleigh Talbert hit a 3-point jumper. The Anteaters would extend their lead to four after several turnovers by the Mustangs, who were outscored 22-13 in the third quarter.
The Anteaters’ largest lead of the night came with only three minutes left in the final quarter when they went up by 10. However, the Mustangs then started their comeback when Wong made a pair of free throws. Less than a minute later, Leaupepe and senior forward Emily Anderson each nailed 3-point jumpers to bring the Mustangs within one point.
Leaupepe hit two free throws on the next possession to give Cal Poly the lead with less than a minute left in regulation. The shots moved her to No.5 on Cal Poly’s all-time scoring list. On the next possession, Anderson grabbed a key offensive rebound and sunk the putback with six seconds left. This capped a 13-0 run and ultimately gave the Mustangs the win after UC Irvine did not get a shot off in the final seconds.
While UC Irvine was closing in on the victory, the Mustangs made a late run fueled by a never-quit mentality that helped change the game.
“I think for us, it’s just having that mentality that we’re not going to give up, and just having that pride to protect our home court helped us get those stops and go on those runs,” Leaupepe said after her fifth straight game with at least 20 points. “To be honest, as long as we get the win, that’s all I really care about. Whatever I can do to help my team be successful is the only thing that matters to me right now, and just having my teammates back and them being there for me is what’s most important.”
Cal Poly will host first place UC Davis (14-3, 4-0) on Special Olympics Day at Mott Athletics Center at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Leaupepe scores 30 in Mustangs’ loss to conference-leading Aggies
The team nearly completed a 20-point comeback against UC Davis Saturday afternoon at Mott Athletics Center, but ultimately came up four points short for a loss.
The Mustangs had a tough start in the first half, only taking the lead once against the Big West-leading Aggies (15-3, 5-0).
Cal Poly lost the opening tip, but fought back as Leaupepe, who led the Mustangs with 30 points and matched a career high of six steals, scored the first four points. Senior forward Mark Kate Evans netted a 3-pointer with a minute left in the first, but the Aggies responded with a three of their own to secure the lead.
Freshman guard Ayshiana Basallo had back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the scored quarter to narrow the Mustangs’ deficit to 35-39.
An administrative technical foul was called on the Mustangs for failing to tell the Aggies of their lineup change, which caused some confusion on the court in the beginning of the third quarter.
The Aggies’ lead ballooned to 17 points by the end of the third quarter on the strength of a 27-14 run.
After being beat in almost every phase of the game in the first three quarters, the Mustangs turned things around in the fourth quarter. They made a huge comeback after the Aggies led by as many as 20 points at 71-51.
Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh said the seniors’ leadership was key to turning around the momentum of the game.
“I’m really proud of my team … we’ve got grit,” Mimnaugh said. “It starts, I think, with our seniors. They just are willing each other to put everything they have on the court.”
Evans built momentum for the Mustangs and closed their deficit to 68-73 after back-to-back three-pointers with three minutes left in the game.
“We had hoped some of our full court press would be disruptive and it would plant the seed that proved to be successful,” Mimnaugh said.
Leaupepe, who has now posted 30 points in four of her last eight games, had a chance to tie the game in the final 10 seconds, but her 3-point attempt clanged off the side of the rim into the outstretched arms of an Aggies’ player.
The Mustangs ultimately fell 76-80.
Cal Poly is back on the road this week and will face Long Beach State Thursday at 7 p.m.