The Cal Poly women’s basketball team came in to Wednesday night’s game at UC Davis looking to gain ground in the Big West Conference standings, but it couldn’t keep up with the Aggies in the second half, falling 82-71.
Senior guard Lisa Marie Sanchez powered the Mustangs (11-12, 4-6 Big West) in the opening quarter, scoring 12 of Cal Poly’s 18 points to tie UC Davis (14-9, 7-3). From there, the Aggies held Cal Poly to 13 points in the second quarter and went into halftime nursing a four-point lead.
Sanchez scored nine points following her hot first quarter and the rest of the team picked up the slack. Sophomore guard Dynn Leaupepe, inserted into the starting lineup after scoring 25 and 31 points in two of the previous four games, contributed 14 of her 16 points on 6-13 shooting after the first quarter. Senior guard Beth Balbierz had 17 points in the loss as well.
The Mustangs went in to the third quarter facing a 35-31 deficit and kept it within five points heading into the final period. But the Aggies went on a 14-6 run in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and Cal Poly was unable to recover.
Despite scoring less than 10 points for only the sixth time this season, junior forward Hannah Gilbert made up for the off shooting night by corralling a game-high 17 rebounds and notching a pair of blocks.
As a team, Cal Poly couldn’t find an advantage in the paint, losing the rebound battle 40-32 and getting outscored 42-28 down low. The Aggies also had 30 points from their bench players compared to four by the Mustangs’ reserves.
UC Davis presented a tough road test for the Mustangs. The Aggies are tied for third in the Big West Conference with the second-highest scoring offense paired with the third-stingiest defense. They are also experienced, having made it to the semifinals of the conference tournament last year as the No. 5 seed.
Cal Poly has six conference games left in the regular season and is four games back in the win column from conference-leading UC Riverside (15-7, 8-0) who comes to Mott Athletics Center on Saturday night. The Mustangs look to close the gap and avenge a 93-83 road loss earlier in the season. A win would also give Cal Poly some momentum down the stretch and solidify a spot in the Big West Conference Tournament.