The Cal Poly women’s basketball team won their fourth straight home game after a massive 25-8 run in the fourth quarter lifted the Mustangs over Cal State Northridge 84-71 Saturday afternoon at Mott Athletics Center.
Senior guard Gabby Grupalo, who finished with a season-high 18 points off the bench, poured in eight points on 4-4 shooting during the Mustangs’ nine-minute run. Senior guard Dynn Leaupepe lead the Mustangs in scoring with 20 points, which was her fourth game in a row scoring 20 or more.
The Matadors jumped out to an early 6-2 lead after the opening tip, but the Mustangs went on a 19-8 run, fueled by nine points off of turnovers, to take a 21-14 lead into the second quarter.
“Having [Lynn Leaupepe] have limited minutes I have more opportunity to get shots up,” Dynn Leaupepe said. “Then, just reading the defense and taking whatever the defense is diving me.”
Junior point guard Dye Stahley briefly came out of the game early in the first quarter with a bloody nose but played an integral role in the Mustangs run after returning to the court by recording steals on back-to-back possessions, resulting in two transition buckets for the Mustangs.
The Matadors fought their way back to tie the game at 26 midway through the second quarter behind strong post play from senior center Channon Fluker, last season’s Big West Conference Player of the Year. In the first half, the Matadors outscored the Mustangs 22-12 in the paint.
“She has the ability to almost single-handedly turn some things around for us,” Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “Both her and Gabby [Grupalo] are fierce defensive players and even if somebody gets past them they still somehow manage to get a hand on the ball. I love the fight that we showed today and it really took the entire team to try to neutralize them.”
Though the Mustangs had limited success down low, they held onto a narrow 40-34 lead at halftime after draining four three-pointers in the final five minutes of the second quarter. The Mustangs had a big advantage from three-point range, draining nine shots from beyond the arc in the game while the Matadors only made two.
Fluker and the Matadors continued to bully the Mustangs in the paint on both sides of the ball in the third quarter. The Mustangs only managed to shoot 3-13 from the field in the third quarter and trailed the Matadors by two points at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs stepped up on both sides of the ball in the final 10 minutes of play, limiting the Matadors to 20 percent shooting from the field while knocking down over 71 percent of their own field goal attempts. Ultimately, the Mustangs’ fourth-quarter run was too much for the Matadors to overcome.
“Our coach has been looking for someone else on the team to score besides Dynn [Leaupepe] because its easy to guard if one person’s scoring all the points,” Grupalo said. “I just stepped it up and my coaches wanted me to attack so that was my main focus this game and also just be ready to shoot the three when I had it.”The win puts the Mustangs (8-7, 2-1) back over .500 in both conference play and overall record, while the Matadors (8-9, 1-2) fall below .500 with the loss.
Next, the Mustangs take on UC Irvine (10-7, 2-1) at Mott Athletics Center in the second game of their three-game homestand Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7:00 p.m.