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After a close, back-and-forth battle in the opening minutes, the defending Big West Conference Tournament champion Cal State Northridge (16-9, 6-5 Big West) pulled away from the Cal Poly women’s basketball team (11-11, 6-4) and secured a 70-58 victory. The loss drops the Mustangs back into a tie for third place.
Despite beating the Matadors earlier this season, Cal Poly fell to Cal State Northridge by a similar score in the Big West Tournament championship game last season, a loss they’ll likely look to redeem next month at the Honda Center.
Senior guard Ariana Elegado, Cal Poly’s leading scorer, went scoreless in 22 minutes of play in Thursday’s matchup. Elegado was a large part of the Mustangs’ victory over the Matadors earlier this season, when she piled on 22 points on 50 percent shooting from the field.
The Mustangs were, however, paced by another outstanding performance by senior forward Taryn Garza, who finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Garza is averaging almost nine rebounds a game, as she sits near the top of that statistical category in the Big West.
Also adding to the mix was sophomore forward Hannah Gilbert, who posted 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
The Matadors did most of their damage on the offensive end from behind the 3-point line, shooting 45 percent from deep. Freshman guard Katelin King and senior guard Cinnamon Lister hit three 3-pointers each.
Cal State Northridge’s leading scorer Ashlee Guay, who was recently named the Big West Player of the Week, sunk 17 points, five of which came from the free throw line.
Cal Poly made a late run in the second half, bringing the game within eight points with around 2:00 remaining. The Mustangs were forced into fouling though, and the Matadors converted on all eight free throw attempts, sealing the win.
The Mustangs will head down to Long Beach State on Saturday for their next contest. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.
Cal Poly now heads into the final stretch of six conference games before the Big West Tournament begins on March 10.