Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News

Cal Poly women’s basketball began their 2021-22 regular season with a 91-77 road loss to the Santa Clara Broncos on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara.

The Mustangs were back in action after a Big West Tournament run last season and an offseason in which they lost both of their Big West all-conference team selections from a year ago in Sierra Campisano and Abbey Ellis.

At first, it seemed like they hadn’t lost a step as they controlled the first seven minutes of the game and quickly jumped out to an 8-5 lead. However, a costly turnover later in the quarter allowed the Broncos to take their first lead of the night at 19-18 and Santa Clara would lead for the rest of the game.

As the second quarter progressed, the Mustangs tried to get things going offensively. However, a lack of rebounding and six straight missed field goals to end the first half left them down 46-35 at the break.

Coming out of the halftime locker room, Cal Poly’s defense stepped up, forcing Santa Clara to just 1-5 from beyond the arc in the quarter. However, the defensive success didn’t translate to the offense, as the Mustangs put up just 14 points in the quarter, leaving them down by 16 going into the fourth and final 10 minutes. 

The fourth quarter was almost a completely different game from the first three, as the Mustangs put up 28 points, including a 10-4 run that seemed to be turning the tide of the game and brought them within 10 points of the lead. However, the Broncos drew two costly fouls from Cal Poly, allowing them to go up 85-72 with 2:18 remaining and seal the eventual win.

Despite the loss, the Mustangs were the better shooting team, going 53% (31-59) from the field and 43% (6-14) from three, compared to Santa Clara’s 49% (33-68) and 31% (9-29). However, the Mustangs also gave up 20 turnovers to the Broncos’ 14, were out-rebounded 36 to 27 and scored only four second-chance points.

Junior guard Maddie Willett (18 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) along with freshman shooting guard Sydney Bourland (13 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) led the way offensively for the Mustangs.

The Mustangs will take on No. 6 Louisville as they go for the upset in their home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 5 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.

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