Mustang News Staff Report
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It’s not often both a men’s and women’s team from the same school play in the conference finals. Less often do they play the same opponent.
But on Saturday, the Cal Poly men’s and women’s basketball teams will face Cal State Northridge in their respective Big West Conference Tournament championship matchups looking for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Women seek second straight tourney appearance
The women’s squad (18-12, 11-5 Big West) is seeking its second straight trip to the big dance after they won last year’s Big West tourney for the program’s first-ever NCAA berth. Standing in its way is No. 1 Cal State Northridge (17-14, 12-4), a team the Mustangs lost to twice this season — the Matadors won 81-76 in Northridge and most recently took down Cal Poly 83-57 at Mott Athletics Center.
In Friday’s semifinal matchup against Hawaii at the Honda Center, second-seeded Cal Poly used 29 points and 11 rebounds from senior center Molly Schlemer to run past the Rainbow Wahine, 66-52. After a breakout campaign last season, Schlemer was given MVP honors in last’s years conference tournament.
No. 1 Cal State Northridge beat UC Irvine 78-60 in its semifinal tune-up with the help of 24 points from Big West Player of the Year Ashlee Guay.
Tip off comes at 1 p.m. on Fox PrimeTicket
Men look to punch first ticket to NCAA Tournament
On back-to-back nights the men’s basketball team upset the top two seeds in the Big West. The victory over No. 2 UC Santa Barbara was an epic blowout nearly no one saw coming and the second win, over No. 1 UC Irvine, showcased an aggressive defense that made every stop they needed.
The upsets don’t matter to anyone now as Cal State Northridge stands in the way of the Mustangs first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. A win would likely force Cal Poly into a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, where two potential No. 16 seeds square off for a chance to crack the top 64.
Saturday night will mark the third time Cal Poly faces Cal State Northridge this season and the Mustangs won both previous matchups. The Matadors were the only team Cal Poly swept in the Big West this season.
Cal State Northridge, however, is coming off two emotional victories of its own. The Matadors rallied against Hawaii to force overtime on Thursday and held off a fierce second-half charge from Long Beach State on Friday night.
Cal Poly is led by senior Chris Eversley, who scored 14 points against the Anteaters, and emotional spark plug David Nwaba who rattled the rim against UC Santa Barbara with high-flying dunks then sent teardrop mid-range shots over UC Irvine’s 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye.
The Matadors are paced by 6-foot-7 forward Stephen Maxwell who averages 17.7 points per contest and junior guard Stephan Hicks who has put up 17.1 points a game this season.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN 2.