The Big West Conference women’s basketball post-season tournament kicks off Wednesday in Anaheim, where Cal Poly has been slated as the No. 5 seed.
After finishing the Big West season at 7-7, the Mustangs were one of four teams in the eight-team conference to finish regular season play with a .500 record.
“Anybody in the league really can beat anybody on their way to the championship,” coach Faith Mimnaugh said.
The Mustangs finished the regular season on a positive note with wins against Cal State Northridge and University of the Pacific to close out Big West play. The Mustangs pounded an overmatched Pacific squad on Saturday, winning 83-45 and will face the Tigers again on Wednesday to open tournament play.
“We definitely are in the momentum swing,” Mimnaugh said. “Personally, I like the fact we’re playing on Wednesday instead of sitting – I’m looking forward to seeing how the team responds.”
UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State shared the Big West Conference title this season with both teams ending league play at 10-4. The two teams earned the one and two seeds, respectively, in the tournament, which gives them a bye to semi-finals on Friday. Although the Gauchos have won league for the 11th straight season, the 49ers are led by the Big West player and coach of the year. Cal Poly went 1-1 against UCSB and 0-2 versus Long Beach.
“I think we can beat any team in the league,” Mimnaugh said. “I think who is playing well will determine who the champion will be. Santa Barbara poses some problems as far as their size goes and I think Long Beach State poses some problems as far as their speed goes.”
While Cal Poly dominated in its latest win against Pacific, the Mustangs lost to Pacific by a similar score in January.
“We know not to look past this team,” Cal Poly guard Jessica Eggleston said. “We’re going in with a little bit of confidence because we’ve won our last two games and we know we’re playing a lot better than we were back then.”
If the Mustangs pull off the first-round victory, they will face No. 4-seeded UC Riverside in the quarterfinals. The Mustangs defeated the Highlanders by 34 on Dec. 29 at Riverside, but fell in their latest game against the Highlanders 48-47 in Mott Gym.
Cal Poly will be led by first team Big West player Jessica Eggleston and senior guard Michelle Henke. Eggleston was selected to the Big West first team all-conference on Monday, the first Cal Poly women’s player to receive the honor.