Kali Bills

The Cal Poly women’s basketball team will attempt to build on its best Big West Conference start ever when it visits Pacific at 7 p.m. tonight. The Mustangs will be looking to re-establish their position in the conference championship race after suffering their first Big West defeat in 10 months, against rival UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.

Cal Poly (7-11, 4-1 Big West) has won six of its past seven meetings with Pacific (7-11, 2-3 Big West) dating back to the 2004-05 season.

Most of those victories have been lopsided. In four of them, the Mustangs won by more than 15 points, including an 83-45 blowout on March 4, 2006.

Despite the past successes, the Mustangs are in no way overconfident about tonight’s contest.

“They’re very athletic and probably the best 3-point (shooting) team we’ve faced all year,” said Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh. “It will be a major challenge to cover their whole team, especially their 3-point shooters.”

Leading the Mustangs should be forward Megan Harrison, who has scored in double figures in 19 of her past 23 games. She is now the third-leading scorer in the conference this season with 14.1 points per game.

A balanced Tigers offense features four players averaging at least 10 points per game. Forward Janae Young leads the quartet with 11.9 points a game.

“They’re going to be a really good team,” Harrison said. “They’re better than they’ve been in past years and we can’t overlook them. If we can focus after our loss on Saturday and get back the good team chemistry we had in the first four games, I think we have a shot.”

Also among the conference’s statistical leaders on behalf of Cal Poly is guard Ashlee Stewart, who is currently fourth with 3.33 assists per game. She will probably be matched up with Amy VanHollebeke, who leads the Big West with 3.56 assists per game.

The Tigers currently average 70 points and 39.8 rebounds per outing, while Cal Poly heads to Stockton posting similar marks of 67 points and 39.9 rebounds per game.

“We need to work on consistency,” Mimnaugh said. “There are times that we focus too much on one aspect of our defense but what we want to do is carry over what we’ve been working on and move forward.”

Cal Poly’s current 4-1 conference record ties the program’s best in 12 years as a member of the Big West.

“I think this weekend will be a challenge for us,” Mimnaugh said. “Both opponents are really tough and it will take sizable effort and concentration to pull off a victory.”

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