Cal Poly women’s basketball fell 61-53 to the University of Nevada Reno on Thursday, Dec. 2 inside Mott Athletics Center.
Cal Poly (1-4) dropped their second straight game in the defeat while Nevada (4-3) earned their third consecutive victory during their trip to the central coast.
The Mustangs were led on offense by junior guard Maddie Willett who tied a career-high with 19 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
The Wolf Pack came out hot in the first quarter, as they scored the first nine points of the game to take control early. All nine points were scored by Da’ja Hamilton. Cal Poly did not let the game get out of hand, however, as junior point guard Maddie Vick sparked a 6-0 run to bring the Mustangs back into the game.
With 2:30 left in the quarter, Nevada made a three-pointer to bring their lead back to nine, which was their largest of the half. Willett cut the deficit at the end of the first to just five with a jump shot with seven second remaining.
The Mustangs had their best opportunity to take control of the game in the second quarter. Just one minute and forty seconds into the quarter, after a Willett hook shot, redshirt freshman guard Sarah Dumitrescu tied the game at 19 with a nice take to the hoop.
The Wolf Pack hit a jump shot to go back up by two, but junior forward Julia Nielacna made sure the Mustangs got the lead right back with a three-pointer to take a 22-21 lead. Four more straight points for Cal Poly gave the Mustangs their biggest lead of the game at 26-21.
However the momentum was not enough, and Nevada would go on a 12-0 run to close the half, capped off by a three-pointer by Kylie Jimenez with four seconds remaining on the clock.
The second half opened the same way as the first, with a three-pointer by Nevada’s Hamilton to give the Wolf Pack their largest lead of the game thus far at 10. The Mustang defense then took it up a notch, holding Nevada scoreless for the next seven minutes of the quarter.
Over that time the Mustangs erased the lead, and even took a momentary one point advantage before Nevada took the lead back. The Wolf Pack stretched the lead to three on a layup thirty seconds later, and they brought that lead into the fourth quarter.
The pace in the fourth quarter slowed down, as both teams turned up the intensity on defense. The Wolf Pack had the first basket of the quarter, but Willett bottomed a catch and shoot three-pointer to cut the lead to just two. However, the Mustangs were never able to close the gap, as the two-point deficit was as close as they got. T
his biggest momentum swing came when Nevada hit a corner three-pointer out of a timeout with three minutes and five seconds remaining. This brought the Nevada lead to seven and the Mustangs were forced to try the foul game to slow down the game. Nevada outscored Cal Poly 9-8 in the final 1:15 of the game to win the game 61-53.
Cal Poly had only two players, Vick and Willett, score more than four points in the game. Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack had three players score 11 or more on the day. After the game, Willett kept the bigger picture in mind when breaking down the performance today.
“Obviously I’m really disappointed that we lost, but I think there’s some really good things that we’re doing and improving on, and I think that’s really exciting,” Willett said. “With all of our games working up to conference I think we keep improving every game, and I think that’s going to really help us in our conference.”
Vick had the same mindset about using this game as a learning experience to get better moving forward.
“It’s hard to have a loss, and coming off a few other losses, but this team is definitely a team that is committed to learning, and putting in the work to get better,” Vick said. “And we’ve seen progress every game, so we’re just hoping that it’s all going to pay off coming up. We have another game Saturday. So just try to get our attitudes right, and come in knowing that we’ve made progress.”
The Mustangs will have a chance to turn it around when they play Denver on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.