Cal Poly Women’s basketball led throughout the entirety of the first half, but fell short 54-51 to UC Irvine on Saturday Feb. 22 inside Bren Events Center.

Redshirt junior forward Sierra Campisano led Cal Poly (7-17, 4-9 Big West) with a game-high 22 points. Freshman forward Sophia Locandro and senior guard Lauren Saiki led UC Irvine (9-17, 5-7) to the victory with 13 points each.

Despite the Mustangs having a higher field goal percentage (38%) than the Anteaters (29%), the key factor in the Anteaters’ victory was the freethrows in their favor. UC Irvine made 16-26 from the line compared to Cal Poly’s 5-8. 

A defensive UC Irvine took advantage of the Mustangs’ errors and converted 24 points from 19 Cal Poly turnovers. UC Irvine’s turnover numbers remained in single digits with nine.

The Mustangs opened the first quarter with an 8-0 run, led by a jumper from junior guard Hannah Peterson. The Anteaters scored their first point of the game after more than four minutes of play, when junior guard Haleigh Talbert made a freethrow. 

UC Irvine went on to convert four additional freethrows through the remainder of the quarter to bring the score to 8-5. The Mustangs had held the Anteaters to their lowest point total in a quarter this season. 

UC Irvine scored its first field goal of the game when junior guard Alexus Seaton scored a jump shot to cut the Cal Poly lead to 8-7 just 12 seconds into the second quarter.  Sophomore guard Gianna Silvestri ended Cal Poly’s four-minute scoreless drought after scoring a three-pointer to extend the Mustang’s lead at 11-7. 

However, less than a minute later, Saiki brought the score even at 11-11. Cal Poly immediately responded when Campisano scored a jumper that extended its lead to 13-11. 

Both teams went on to convert eight points each to close the first half at 24-21 in favor of the Mustangs. 

In the first half, Cal Poly held UC Irvine to 23 percent shooting from the field while Cal Poly shot 39 percent. Both teams each converted one three-pointer in the half  

Saiki opened the second half scoring, commencing the Anteaters’ comeback with a deep three-pointer that brought the score even at 24-24. UC Irvine then took the lead for the first time when Locandro scored a layup 

UC Irvine’s 10-0 scoring drive ended when junior guard Malia Holt scored a layup after over three unresponsive minutes from the Mustangs to cut the deficit to 31-26. 

Silvestri reached her season-high six points after scoring her second three-pointer of the afternoon to pull the Mustangs within four points at 33-29. 

However, the Anteaters took a 42-36 lead going into the final quarter.

Cal Poly outscored UC Irvine in the final quarter 15-12 but were unable to retake the lead. Freshman guard Jayde Cadee added an early pair of free-throws for the Anteaters. Midway into the quarter, Cadee scored a three-pointer that would result in the Anteaters’ largest lead at 51-39.  

Junior forward Kirsty Brown initiated the Mustang’s attempted comeback with a layup thanks to a quick pass from Holt to bring the score to 51-41. Campisano contributed four points to cut the deficit to 51-45. 

Less than a minute later, Holt scooped up a loose ball in the paint and converted a layup to pull the Mustangs within four points at 51-47 with 1:42 remaining on the clock.  

However, UC Irvine cut down Cal Poly’s 8-0 run with consecutive free-throws from Saiki and Locandro to extend its lead to seven points at 54-47. 

Campisano scored a three-point buzzer beater to close the game at 54-51. 

Cal Poly will return to Mott Athletics Center for a Blue-Green rivalry matchup against UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.

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