The Cal Poly women’s basketball team battled all the way back into its Big West Conference game against UC Davis on Thursday night at Mott Gym. And then the Mustangs let it slip away, giving up an 11-0 run spanning the final four minutes and 18 seconds in a 53-47 loss.
“We tried to stay together. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” said Cal Poly senior guard Sparkle Anderson.
Cal Poly committed 26 turnovers, almost twice as many as the 14 UC Davis had.
“Turnovers killed us tonight,” said Mustangs junior forward Megan Harrison.
Besides Harrison, who had game highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds, no Mustangs scored in double figures, as Cal Poly (9-16, 6-6) made only 1 of its 13 attempts from 3-point range while scoring its fewest points since a 63-43 loss to UC Riverside on Jan. 29, 2005.
“We were tentative on offense and struggled to take care of the ball,” Mustangs head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “We didn’t perform well as far as our attack went.”
Mimnaugh credited the Aggies’ zone defense for much of the problems.
“(UC) Davis probably plays the best zone and they’ve beaten some really terrific teams this year because their zone defense is so strong,” she said.
After trailing 27-16 at halftime, the Mustangs fell behind by as many as 14, at 32-18 a minute after intermission, but reeled off a 14-2 run over the next 7:51 to narrow the margin to 34-32.
“We started attacking more and started taking smarter shots,” Anderson said.
A “bright spot,” according to Mimnaugh, was Harrison and her “good attacks to the basket.” Harrison’s double-double was her fourth at the college level.
A jumper by sophomore guard Brittany Asplund with 4:18 remaining gave the Mustangs a 47-42 lead, their largest of the contest, but they missed their next four shots and turned the ball over four times while not scoring again.
“We had the game won in the last four minutes, and if we had just taken care of the ball it would have been a different story,” Harrison said.
Senior forward Ellen Porshneva came off the bench to pace UC Davis with 14 points. She made all seven of her free-throw attempts. Freshman forward Paige Mintun added 10 points for the Aggies (16-9, 10-3), who won their sixth-straight game.
The Mustangs, whose 39-27 rebounding advantage was squandered, host Pacific at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ll go over all their different offensive plays tomorrow so we’ll know exactly what Pacific will run and try to prepare ourselves that way,” Harrison said.
Mimnaugh said she expects more of a man-to-man defense than what Cal Poly saw against UC Davis.
“We have to get back in the frame of mind to attack against a man defense,” she said. “They are fast-paced and have a much better balance of scoring throughout the entire roster.”
Although Cal Poly has lost seven of nine outings, it remained in fourth place by virtue of Thursday losses by fifth-place Pacific and sixth-place Cal State Fullerton.
“Our goals are to go to the NCAA Tournament,” Harrison said. “Right now we’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot, but hopefully we’ll get there.”