The women’s basketball team split a pair of home games last week, winning 69-67 over Long Beach State Thursday before falling to UC Irvine in overtime 74-71 Saturday.
Against Long Beach State
In the win against the 49ers (18-9, 9-3 Big West), the Mustangs extended their win streak to a season-high of three games. The team went four for eight from beyond the arc and made 81 percent of their free throws in Cal Poly’s first win at home over the 49ers in five years.
With 12 points, senior forward Hannah Gilbert is now three points away from tying with Jonae Ervin for 8th most points in Cal Poly history.
The Mustangs got out to an early lead as junior guard Gabby Grupalo knocked in a pair of threes and two free throws to score eight of the team’s 17 points in the first quarter.
“[Grupalo] was awesome … we were glad to see her get the lid off the basket for us,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said.
“It was really exciting, I was just going out there and shooting the ball,” Grupalo said. “I was definitely feeling a lot of confidence and it brought a lot of momentum for me.”
The Mustangs held their largest lead, 11 points, with a minute and a half left in the quarter before the 49ers fought back and ended the first quarter down 17-10 to the Mustangs.
A 20-point second quarter for the 49ers was not enough to overcome the Mustangs’ lead. The 49ers chipped away but the Mustangs matched them nearly shot for shot and maintained a three-point lead at halftime. A breakout pass led to an easy layup for junior guard Cece Wilson to bring the 49ers within one point of tying the game, but a buzzer beater jump shot by junior guard Lynn Leaupepe held the Mustangs’ advantage at 33-30 going into halftime.
In the third quarter, the 49ers outscored the Mustangs with another 20-point quarter, finally taking their first lead of the game with 1:30 left. Junior guard Dynn Leaupepe answered with a pair of shots to tie the game at 50-50.
The Mustangs’ pace seemed to have slowed since the first quarter as the 49ers had outscored them 40-33 in the second and third quarters, but the team remained confident.
“We were telling ourselves that we were going to win this game, that it’s going to be the greatest win in the conference yet,” Dynn said. “We were just really confident in each other and believed in each other.”
That confidence paid off as Dynn went off in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the game’s final 10 minutes.
“I just let the game come to me,” she said. “I just read what the defense was making adjustments to … and was trying to be an option for my teammates. That lead to easier buckets for me.”
To open the fourth quarter, Gilbert made two jump shots off of two offensive rebounds, followed by a block leading to an outlet pass to Dynn for an easy layup, pushing the Mustangs’ lead to six points.
The 49ers continued the pressure, cutting the lead to two points twice in the final minute of the game, but sophomore point guard Dye Stahley’s pair of free throws with 15 seconds left sealed the win for Cal Poly.
“The starting unit logged a lot of minutes tonight… I didn’t give my bench much of a go tonight, but I felt like that was the proper strategy for [Long Beach State],” Mimnaugh said.
Four of the starters reached double-digit point totals, as Dynn had a game-high 20 points, followed by Lynn with 15 points, Gilbert with 12 and Stahley with 10. This was Lynn’s fourth consecutive 10-point game and Dynn’s third straight double-figure game.
“This shows that we can play with anyone, and in this conference anyone can win,” Dynn said. “It’s whoever shows up and finishes the game.”
Against UC Irvine
The women’s basketball team’s three-game win streak came to an abrupt end Saturday night as the Mustangs lost in overtime to the Anteaters (4-22, 2-10), the last-place team in the Big West.
The two teams were locked in a tightly contested battle from the opening tip. Neither team led by more than one possession until the final minute of the first quarter when the Mustangs took a five-point lead on a three-pointer by junior forward Mary Kate Evans and a free throw by Dynn. She lead the Mustangs in scoring with 25 points on the night, but only converted nine of her 24 shots.
“I think I was anticipating too much. Just being more patient next time will help me flow better into the offense,” Dynn said.
It wasn’t just Dynn that struggled to find her flow, but the entire team seemed to be pressing on offense from start to finish. While the Mustangs usually convert more than 75 percent of their free throw attempts, they only converted 13 of their 21 free throws on Saturday night. The Mustangs also took 19 more shots from the floor than the Anteaters, but only converted 37 of their attempts while allowing UC Irvine to connect on 46 percent of their shots.
“We just didn’t convert from the free throw line today. We’ve been 70-plus percent most of the season, today we were 62 percent,” Mimnaugh said. “Our starters logged a lot of minutes on Thursday and it just didn’t feel like we had the same legs about us as we did earlier in the week. It’s just disappointing.”
As the second quarter began, the Anteaters began to find their stroke. UC Irvine took the lead back three minutes into the quarter on a three-pointer by senior Irene Chavez during a 19-4 run.
The Anteaters’ lead ballooned to double digits with 3:13 left before halftime after Chavez converted on a pair of free throws to cap off UC Irvine’s momentum-changing second quarter run. Chavez, who finished with 17 points, was one of five Anteaters to score in double-digits Saturday night.
Forward Emily Anderson provided the spark the Mustangs needed to stop the run, as the sharpshooter scored five quick points on a three-pointer and a tough reverse layup on back-to-back possessions. The quick buckets propelled the Mustangs to a 9-0 run of their own just before halftime.
“We asked our players to have a lot more motion than they did,” Mimnaugh said. “We oftentimes just saw them standing in the same place. We were pretty stagnant on offense.”
Dynn drilled a three-point shot as the buzzer sounded to end the second quarter, but, upon further review, the officials decided the ball was still touching her fingertips as the clock expired. The basket would have put the Mustangs up by two going into halftime, but instead they trailed 34-33.
The score remained close after the break, as the two teams changed leads eight times in the second half and overtime. The Anteaters managed to pull ahead by eight points, the largest lead of the second half by either team, with 6:33 left in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs went on an 8-0 run finished off with a layup by Gilbert, who recorded her 12th career double-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high six steals to tie the game at 58 with 1:21 to play.
The Mustangs had a good chance to take the lead at the end of regulation, as Stahley stole the ball from UC Irvine guard Brooke Bayman with 23 seconds left in the quarter and Cal Poly called a timeout with 12 seconds to play.
Dynn had a good look from mid-range with less than five seconds on the clock, but her shot was off and the game went to overtime with the score tied at 60.
The two teams changed leads five times in the first two and a half minutes of overtime, but the Anteaters were able to hold on to the lead over the final minutes to upset the Mustangs, 74-71.
“It’s always harder when you play a team you are supposed to beat,” Gilbert said. “To me it’s way more stressful. So we almost went into panic mode when we were losing and we forced really bad shots.”
Gilbert moved to 7th place all-time in Cal Poly women’s basketball scoring in the defeat, and Lynn moved into 17th place all-time in scoring.
With just three games left in the regular season, conference tournament seeds change with every game. Currently, the Mustangs are sixth in the Big West but just three games out of second place. They will travel to UC Davis Wednesday to face the conference-leading Aggies at 7 p.m.