Cal Poly Women's Basketball took an early lead over No. 24 Washington State but fell to the 2022 Pac-12 Champions on the road Monday, Nov. 6 Credit: Cal Poly Athletics

Cal Poly Women’s Basketball started off the season by hitting six of their first seven shots against last year’s Pac-12 champions, No. 24 ranked Washington State. The Mustangs built a held 34-31 first-half lead but couldn’t outlast the nationally-ranked Cougars and ultimately fell 78-61. 

It was an encouraging sign for the Mustangs (0-1, 0-0 Big West), who are in their second year under Head Coach Shanele Stires, that they competed against one of the toughest teams on their schedules. 

Senior forward Natalia Ackerman propelled the Mustangs to their first-half lead with 10 points in the first half. The Aptos High School product finished with 12 points.

Midway through the third quarter, the Cougars came back and took control after a 14-6 run to secure the lead for good.

Junior guard Annika Shah contributed nine points along with a team-high four assists. In their first games with Cal Poly, freshman forward Mary Carter and transfer graduate student guard Ania McNicholas both hit multiple threes with Carter hitting nine points and McNicholas with eight.

Carter and McNicholas are just two of the nine newcomers to the program this season, which includes five true freshmen and four transfers.

Monday’s clash against the Cougars was the first of many upcoming games against PAC-12 teams, which will include away games against Cal, Stanford and USC in the month of November.

The Mustangs’ next game will be against the University of Idaho on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the ICCU arena in Idaho.