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Despite three players scoring in double figures, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team (11-10, 6-3) fell from its first-place spot in the Big West Conference on Saturday night after a 79-64 loss to Hawaii (15-7, 7-2), who now stands alone in first place.
Senior guard Ariana Elegado scored a team-high 20 points but shot just under 40 percent from the field. Elegado has carried much of the scoring burden for her team this year, averaging a team-high 15.4 points per game.
Fellow senior guard Kristen Ale, the Mustangs’ second-leading scorer, put up 18 points, eight of which were from the free throw line. Senior forward Taryn Garza joined in on the action as well, contributing on both the offensive and defensive boards, achieving a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Besides those three players, the Mustangs struggled to put points on the board in many other ways and were out-dueled by a more even attack from Hawaii.
Senior guard Shawna Lei-Kuehu carried the Rainbow Wahine for most of the game on her 10-for-12 shooting night for 22 points. Lei-Kuehu has led her team in scoring this season, but not by much. The even distribution of scoring on Hawaii’s side has propelled them to the best record in the Big West so far, including against the Mustangs on Saturday.
Although Lei-Kuehu scored twice her average points per game — and both senior guard Ashleigh Karaitiana and junior forward Destiny King, two regular scorers, put up their normal numbers — the Hawaii bench was the difference in the game. They outscored the Mustangs’ reserves 42-7, including the 22 points from Lei-Kuehu, who came off the bench.
Hawaii also shot 48 percent from the field throughout the game, much better than the 36 percent mark put up by Cal Poly.
The Mustangs also took many isolated shots, attempted without team play. They only recorded four team assists — as opposed to 14 by Hawaii — a clear indicator of rushed and flustered play. Cal Poly relies on hot 3-point shooting, but they went just 2-for-13 from behind the arch — both of which were sunk by Elegado.
Hawaii now stands alone in first place, ahead of a four-way tie for second that includes Cal Poly. The outcome of the season standings will certainly come down to the wire and is ultimately up for takers at this point.
Cal Poly will travel to play Cal State Northridge, the defending Big West champions, on Thursday. Game time is set for 7 p.m.