The Mustang women’s basketball team prevailed in a tight 53-48 win in its home opener against Houston Thursday night, with sophomore guard Ashlee Stewart hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final six minutes of the game. Junior forward Lisa McBride led the team with 17 points, while junior forward Megan Harrison followed with 14 points of her own.
Head coach Faith Mimnaugh was pleased with the team’s performance, saying, “We had another great showing from the free-throw line. It’s a young but talented team.”
She was especially pleased with McBride, this week’s Big West Player of the Week.
“McBride had a great game and did an incredible job offensively,” Mimnaugh said. “She was a big reason we won the game.”
The first half of the game was full of missed passes and outs; Poly missed its first dozen 3-pointers while the Cougars made two of nine attempts.
With 6:44 left in the first half the score was 18-11, with Harrison having scored six points.
After sophomore guard Becky Tratter made a jumper, there was a key turnover by Houston’s Jasmine Johnson, which was capitalized on by senior point guard Kyla Howell.
The first half ended with a layup by Harrison and four missed shots by Houston.
In the second half, senior guard Sparkle Anderson made a save from out of bounds before it was rebounded.
After a 3-pointer by Houston’s Twiggy McIntire at 14:57, there was a scramble for the ball before McIntire took it back.
Sophomore guard Shannon Gholar began a series of turnovers before it was stolen by McIntire, turned over by Houson’s Alona Obaze and stolen back by sophomore guard Tamara Wells.
At 9:41, Gholar made a steal before Houston’s Brittany Mason stole it back right before a layup.
McBride made a jumper at 5:26, followed by one by Tratter at 3:23, which kicked off a run of McBride and Harrison making layups, bringing the score to 26-17 and stirring the crowd.
Though the Cougars made more 3-pointers and succeeded in making 68 percent of their free throws in the second half, the Mustangs slid by with a win after Harrison made a layup, Wells blocked one of Houston’s shots and McBride squeezed in two points in the last 20 seconds.
Harrison has reached double figures in each of the past three games, leading the team in points after having never led last year.
“Tonight was huge,” Harrison said. “The other team was more athletic and bigger than us in many positions. This game really helps us.”
Mimnaugh said she plans on trying various lineups throughout the season with lots of potential starting players. The team is also preparing for an away game against UCLA Tuesday.
“We’re going to try hard to win,” Mimnaugh said. “The game will be a true test against a Pac-10 team.”
Harrison is excited to play the Bruins on Nov. 20.
“UCLA is such a good team and playing them will make us better for conference,” she said.