Ian Billings/Staff Photographer

The Cal Poly men’s basketball team will hit the road for matchups against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.

Evan Morter

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The Cal Poly women’s basketball team will return to action under the lights of Mott Athletics Center on Thursday to face Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. before playing UC Riverside on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Mustangs have played eight of their last nine games on the road, and the team is pleased to return to action at home this weekend, according to junior guard Ariana Elegado.

“Playing at home makes us feel so much better, much more positive,” Elegado said.

Elegado has had a red-hot start to her third Big West season, averaging 23.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in Cal Poly’s first four conference games.

Elegado’s recent success is attributed to her versatility on the court, head coach Faith Mimnaugh said.

“She’s very gifted,” Mimnaugh said in Monday’s press conference. “Her handles really set her up for a lot of different things. She can get into the paint, draw a second defender, and she’s got the little floater. She’s got a promising future.”

Cal Poly will need similar production from Elegado on Thursday when the Mustangs face Cal State Fullerton. The Titans’ senior guard Alex Thomas has posted 21 points per game in conference play for the Titans this season. Junior guard Chante Miles completes the duo in the backcourt and averages 15 points a game on the year.

“They’re a small team, but very fast, athletic and extremely tough defensively,” Mimnaugh said. “Hopefully we have a good chance of having a bit of a strength offensively on the inside that they won’t be able to handle.”

The Mustangs will then host UC Riverside, which poses a much different test than Cal State Fullerton. The Highlanders have a height advantage at the guard position that they’ll look to exploit. Elegado and senior guard Jonae Ervin will both be outsized by roughly 3 inches in their respective matchups.

“It will be a big challenge for us, as far as commanding their size,” Mimnaugh said.

The two home games ahead are key contests for the Mustangs, who have a championship in sight.

“They tasted what it was like to be champions,” Mimnaugh said. “They know they have to put in a little bit extra. We’re still not playing our best ball yet.”

Meanwhile, the Cal Poly men’s basketball team will hit the road for matchups against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.

The Mustangs are coming off a disappointing defeat to Long Beach State this past Saturday, but head coach Joe Callero said the team can learn from the loss.

“Long Beach State is a game that will help us down the road,” he said.

Cal Poly’s mentality of using previous games as tools for games down the road is now directed toward the two games at hand, he said.

“The momentum we got from the Santa Barbara road victory we hope can carry onto Fullerton and Riverside,” Callero said.

The win against the rival Gauchos was Cal Poly’s second victory away from Mott this season. The Mustangs are 2-7 on the road this year.

The Mustangs will look to bounce back in their upcoming road trip to cement themselves as a Big West title contender.

“To compete for a conference championship, you have to win at least 50 percent of your road games,” Callero said. “I look forward to going on the road because it’s kind of challenging for us.”

The men’s and women’s Cal Poly basketball teams both find themselves at 3-1 in Big West play heading into the weekend.

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