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After a slow start, and at times trailing by as many as 12 points, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team (2-1) surged on a 16-5 run to end the first half, helping the Mustangs defeat Portland (0-3) 76-67 at Mott Athletics Center.
Most of the first half was controlled by the Pilots. Senior forward Cassandra Brown finished the first half with 17 points, hitting multiple three-pointers in the opening minutes of the game. Struggling to keep pace with the high-intensity play of the Pilots, the Mustangs were forced into tough outside jump shots and finished the half shooting just 12-of-35.
However, with around four minutes left in the half, the Pilots went ice-cold from the field. The Mustangs took control of the pace of the game, turning the momentum in their favor.
“Starting the game, we were trying to go into a 3-2 zone after made baskets,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have someone to slow the ball down in the backcourt. But once we switched strictly to man, we were able to keep them out of transition.”
Senior guard Kristen Ale’s 16 first-half points helped Cal Poly head to the locker room trailing only by three.
The second half was dominated by Cal Poly’s senior guard Ariana Elegado. After struggling in the first half with just two points, Elegado erupted for 17 points in the second half to finish with 19.
“I just flushed the first half,” Elegado said. “I just knew that I could do other things to help my team if I was in foul trouble. My teammates and coaches really brought me up and helped me get going offensively. “
Elegado also tallied five assists and has led the Mustangs in that category in every game this season.
“Luckily, my teammates have been finishing well,” Elegado added. “They’ve been doing a good job of rotating and getting to open spots.”
The Mustangs came out in the second half with complete control of the game. After shooting poorly from beyond the arc in the first half, they played with much more energy on the defensive end, allowing them to get the ball in transition and properly run their offense.
“Our team did a great job of not settling for threes and utilizing our post plays in the second half,” Mimnaugh said.
The Mustangs relied on sophomore forward Hannah Gilbert in the second half, who finished with a double-double. Gilbert set career highs with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pilots didn’t completely disappear in the second half, bringing themselves within five points with about 10 minutes to go. Cal Poly was ultimately able to control the ball and take higher percentage shots, ensuring the victory.
“We just calmed down and we were really in the game,” Elegado said. “In the second half, we had the momentum.”
The Mustangs will look to continue their positive start to the season on Nov. 25 when they host Pepperdine at Mott Athletics Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.