Things looked grim for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team (6-7, 2-0 Big West) in the early minutes of its game against Pacific Thursday.
The Mustangs were undermanned, only dressing eight players, and after Pacific connected on its first seven shots, Cal Poly was staring at an 11-point deficit just four minutes into the first half.
But with career nights from starters Kayla Griffin, Jonae Ervin, Tamara Wells and Caroline Reeves, Cal Poly pulled through and defeated Pacific, 84-74, to stay undefeated in conference play.
The Mustangs were able to quickly erase Pacific’s 17-6 lead with their own 12-2 run. Fueled by Ervin, who beat her 11-point career high in the first half alone with 14 points, the Mustangs held a 40-38 halftime lead.
Ervin said despite the early deficit, she was confident there was plenty of time for the team to get back in the game.
“We definitely had to step up, but we knew we had it,” Ervin said. “It was just the start. We had a lot of time to come back in the game. We believed in each other, we trusted each other and a variety of players were able to score.”
The Mustangs were able to run away with the lead when Pacific failed to score any points in the first six minutes of the half. A 3-pointer by Rachel Clancy gave the Mustangs a 67-52 advantage, tying the Mustangs’ largest lead of the night with eight minutes remaining, and securing the victory.
The Mustangs committed just 12 turnovers, their fewest of the season, and forced Pacific into 20 turnovers. The Mustangs also finished with their highest scoring performance of the season.
Head coach Faith Mimnaugh said it was one of the best games she has seen from her players and was proud of their efforts.
“The kids just played a great game and I can’t say enough about the effort,” Mimnaugh said. “It was an entire team effort and we played well on both ends of the courts.”
For the second time in a row, five Mustangs finished with double-digit scoring. Griffin grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds, while adding 15 points. Ervin, Clancy and Reeves each finished the game with 19 points, a career-high for Reeves as well, and Wells had a career-high six steals while adding 10 points and seven assists.
With the shallow bench, Reeves said support from the team was important down the stretch when fatigue settled in.
“(We had) a lot of support all the way around,” Reeves said. “A lot of us were just really tired out there, so everyone on the bench just cheering everyone on helped a lot.”
A team already plagued with injuries, the Mustangs were without Ashlee Burns, and starters Desiray Johnston and Abby Bloetscher, who combined for a total of 24.6 points per game this season.
The three were forced to sit out in the game against Pacific for violating unspecified team rules. Mimnaugh said she expects Johnston to return to the lineup in Cal Poly’s next game.
The Mustangs will face UC Davis in Mott Gym Saturday, Jan. 8th at 4:00 p.m.