Cal Poly Women’s Basketball initially learned that there was a positive COVID-19 case within their program after the team tested for the coronavirus on Monday, Jan. 4, which resulted in the cancellation of four games in total.
The Mustangs — who held a 5-3 record before the positive case — had to cancel several games. The team canceled their two-game series against CSU Bakersfield which was previously scheduled for Jan. 8-9 as well as the games against UC Riverside that were slated for Jan. 15-16.
“Every day you go in you are hoping that your tests are negative so that you can practice tomorrow,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “You are holding your breath before every game to see if you have picked up any positive tests or your opponent has picked up any positive tests.”
After the team found out about the positive case, everything was shut down and all players and staff had to quarantine for 10-14 days. Despite the positive case, nobody else on the team was infected, and some players came into the gym to put shots up individually after seven days and two negative tests.
The team’s road back to playing in the regular season was challenging due to the lack of practice and conditioning, Mimnaugh said.
“You have to play basketball to get into basketball shape,” Mimnaugh said. “You can study film and your plays but that does not replace being out there and actually doing it.”
After the team was cleared to practice after two weeks of quarantining, they had to get ready for their upcoming two-game series against UC Irvine on Jan. 22-23. However, the team had very little time to prepare and fit in only four practices before their matchup. Mimnaugh said she had to account for “several factors” to ensure the team was mentally and physically ready.
Mimnaugh said she also had to consider that the team was not in “basketball condition” for two weeks and was still trying to prepare for the opponent all in four practices.
Cal Poly lost 63-52 against UC Irvine — which marked their first game back in 20 days. The Mustangs improved in their second game, but they still fell to the Anteaters and lost 79-70 after sending the game to overtime.
“We definitely feel like if we had no slow-downs we would have been better prepared to face a terrific team like Irvine,” Mimnaugh said. “We would have felt more confident in our preparations.”
After a full week of practice, the Mustangs bounced back and won three games in a row from that point. Cal Poly swept UC Riverside in another two-game series, beating the Highlanders 56-43 in the first matchup and 67-53 in the second game of the series. The Mustangs then went on to defeat the University of Hawai’i 79-71 at home on Feb. 5 before a 66-60 loss to the Rainbow Warriors the next day to end their winning streak.
“It has been a requirement to be flexible and to have your heart broken for a second, but you need to pick yourself back up and get back out there,” Mimnaugh said.
The Mustangs have bounced back since their cancellation of four games in the middle of the season as they have gone 6-4, including three wins in the last four games. The team also improved their record to 11-7 and 7-5 Big West, and they currently sit fourth in the conference standings.