Mustang News Staff Report
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The Cal Poly women’s basketball team (11-9, 6-2 Big West Conference) easily handled UC Irvine (4-18, 1-6) Saturday night, defeating the Anteaters 74-58. The win puts the Mustangs in sole possession of first place in the Big West standings, half a game ahead of both Long Beach State and Hawaii.
In front of 1,041 fans, the Mustangs took the lead within the first five minutes and never surrendered it again.
Eleven Cal Poly players notched points, led by sophomore forward Hannah Gilbert and freshman guard Dynn Leaupepe, who both had 14 points. Leaupepe did all her damage in just 18 minutes of play, continuing her impressive points-per-minute ratio.
With the commanding lead, head coach Faith Mimnaugh was also allowed the luxury of using 16 players throughout the game, gaining valuable court time for some players who rarely get the chance to see the floor.
Gilbert also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, while freshman Lynn Leaupepe and twin sister Dynn each grabbed seven boards. Senior guard Ariana Elegado played facilitator, dishing out eight assists. Elegado also went 3-for-6 from 3-point range and finished with a modest nine points.
As a squad, the Mustangs shot 39.2 percent from the field, and against conventional odds shot an even better 40 percent from 3-point range, going 8-for-20 from deep.
Cal Poly looks primed to make a long run in the Big West Tournament in March. After a somewhat rough start to the season, the young squad has figured things out and defined their roles. Despite the loss of a couple key players from last year, this year’s team has been just as — if not more — successful.
The Mustangs have won seven of their last nine games, but the road will get tougher from here.
The next three games for Cal Poly are all on the road against the three toughest conference opponents: Hawaii, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State.
Hawaii and Long Beach State are tied for second place, just behind Cal Poly, and the 49ers are one of the two Big West teams to beat the Mustangs so far. Cal State Northridge returned all five starters from its tournament-winning squad last year, boasting a ton of experience and firepower.
Though the road ahead is tough, the Mustangs seem primed for a deep postseason run.
They get a day off next Thursday but resume the second half of Big West play on Feb. 7 at Hawaii.