With two seconds left in the game and Cal Poly down by one, sophomore point guard Abbey Ellis got open and hit a game-winning floater to give the Mustangs the 57-56 victory over Santa Clara on Monday, Dec. 14 inside Mott Athletics Center.
After Ellis’s late game heroics, the Mustangs are now 2-1 on the season while the Broncos move to 1-1. Monday’s matchup was the first of a back-to-back between the two teams, as they face off again on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
The Mustangs kicked off the scoring early in the first quarter thanks to a jump shot from the top of the key by senior forward Kirsty Brown. After this, the Broncos went on a short run that gave them a five point lead at 9-4. Cal Poly was able to even up the score at nine apiece thanks to a layup by Brown, but the rest of the quarter was all Santa Clara. In the final four minutes of the quarter, the Broncos built a lead of 18-11.
However, the second quarter was an entirely different story. The Mustangs came out of the quarter break firing, going on a 10-2 run to grab a 21-20 lead, their first lead since the first score of the game. The run was fueled by senior forward Sierra Campisano’s six points, after being held scoreless in the first quarter.
After Santa Clara went on a short run of their own to regain the lead at 25-23, Cal Poly came storming back. Six more points from Campisano and a three from Ellis helped the Mustangs end the half with a 34-28 lead.
At the half, Ellis and Campisano each had 12 points, the only Mustangs in double figures. The first half was full of turnovers, with the Mustangs recording nine while Santa Clara turned the ball over twelve times.
In terms of shooting, Cal Poly was very efficient, knocking down 50% of their field goals. The Broncos struggled at times from the field, shooting 36.7% from the field in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Mustangs were able to maintain their lead thanks to eight points from sophomore guard Maddie Willet and great play on the defensive end. At the end of the quarter, Cal Poly led 50-47.
The story of the fourth quarter revolved around defense and fouls by the Mustangs. After a three pointer by the Broncos evened the score up at 51 apiece with eight minutes left, no team led by more than one point for the remainder of the game. Santa Clara quickly found themselves in the bonus after consecutive fouls from Cal Poly and as a result, all of their points came from the free throw line for the last five minutes of the game.
Then, with the Mustangs down by one point and in possession of the ball, Ellis was fouled with two seconds left, resulting in an inbound play for Cal Poly. With the game on the line, senior guard Malia Holt found a cutting Ellis with the inbound pass, who nailed the game-winning floater with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Broncos failed to score in the last moments of the game thanks to a clutch block by Campisano.
Ellis ended the game with 18 points to lead the Mustangs, with Campisano not far behind with 14 points and seven rebounds of her own. Brown and Willet also contributed eight points apiece. Cal Poly recorded six blocks and forced 20 turnovers from Santa Clara, including 11 steals.
The Mustangs and Broncos will square off again inside Mott Athletics Center on Tuesday, Dec. 15th.