Nearly a month ago, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team enjoyed its most lopsided win of the season at the expense of UC Irvine. This time around, though, it doesn’t figure to be so easy.
In her only missed game of the season, UC Irvine sophomore forward Kelly Cochran didn’t play at Cal Poly on Jan. 12 in the Mustangs’ 92-55 win. The Anteaters’ second-leading scorer and rebounder is expected to play when they host Cal Poly in a Big West Conference battle at 7 p.m. tonight.
“That loss of personnel was probably worth 20 points to them, so they probably played the worst that they could play all season long (on Jan. 12),” Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “Hopefully we had a little something to do with that, but we expect to see a different Irvine when we go down there on Thursday.”
Cochran, who has averaged 11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season, told the Daily Pilot earlier this week that she and her teammates “can’t wait to play Cal Poly.”
Her scoring and rebounding averages are second on the team behind senior forward Stephanie Duda, who posts 12.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per outing. Her rebounding average is 11th in the country.
Until this past week, the Anteaters (6-16, 2-6 Big West), who Mimnaugh deems a “very scary team,” had lost 12 games in a row. They snapped their losing skid by beating Cal State Northridge last Thursday, 70-55, before topping Long Beach State on Saturday, 76-64.
“I think overall, their confidence is certainly building,” Mimnaugh said.
In the more recent win, Cochran (19 points), Duda (14), sophomore guard Rebecca Maessen (12), senior guard Miranda Forry (10) and junior guard Kirian Ishizaki (10) all scored in double figures.
Cochran and Duda were responsible for the first 17 UC Irvine points in the second half.
“They run the ball well,” Mimnaugh said. “They are suddenly a team that really likes to get out on the break, they shoot the 3 ball well, and they have a lot of penetration. They try to suck you in so they can pitch out for a 3.”
Cal Poly (8-13, 5-3 Big West), meanwhile, enters the contest having lost four of its past five games.
In their most recent shortcoming, a 67-55 home loss to UC Riverside on Saturday, the Mustangs went 7 minutes and 44 seconds without scoring midway through the game.
Junior forward Megan Harrison and senior guard Toni Newman shared a team-high 13 points in defeat.
For the season, Harrison paces Cal Poly with both 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest, while junior forward Lisa McBride, who came off the bench against UC Riverside due to illness, is second in both categories, with 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. She is shooting a team-leading 47.7 percent from the floor.
The Mustangs lead the all-time series with UC Irvine 18-16.
Shortly after taking the floor against the Anteaters, Cal Poly will play at Cal State Fullerton at 5 p.m. Saturday.