Junior guard Ariana Elegado scored a team-high 22 points in a 85-72 loss to Long Beach State on Saturday.
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There comes a time in many athletes’ careers when they’re asked to leave the past behind and look to their next challenge. That point may have been reached for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team after it suffered its second double-digit loss in as many games in a 85-72 loss to Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon. Adding insult to injury was the fact that both losses came on their home court.
“I thought that our defense was poor, and I think we’ve had two games in a row where we’ve had some real difficulty with not just match-ups, but communication,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said.
The loss also marked the second straight game in which the Mustangs surrendered more than 80 points points to their opponents. Before this past week, the last opponent to score more than 80 against Cal Poly was Long Beach State on Jan. 18. However, in that matchup, the Mustangs picked up a critical road win with a 106-102 overtime victory.
This time around, the Mustangs failed to find their rhythm and could not keep the same scoring pace as the 49ers. The Mustangs fell behind early on, and couldn’t get the stops they needed to catch up. Their only lead of the game came when true freshman Sarah Lipton hit consecutive 3-pointers and senior center Molly Schlemer followed with a layup to bring the score to 20-17 with 9:58 to go in the first half.
With the game tied at 20, the 49ers went on a 19-6 run to close out the half and carry a 13 point lead into the locker room.
“Lately, I think the past three games we started off slower, which is a crucial thing because once teams start on their runs, that brings us down, so I think their run in the beginning got us down,” junior guard Ariana Elegado said.
Long Beach State shot 50.9 percent from the floor to the Mustangs’ 39.2 percent. The shots never seemed to fall for the Mustangs, as they had previously in their eight conference victories.
“Our shots were off in the first half and I felt we didn’t really get the momentum; our heads were down,” Elegado said.
Elegado finished the night with 22 points and three assists.
In the first half, the Mustangs shot 30.3 percent to the 49ers 48.5 percent clip.
Cal Poly came out aggressively in the second half, but couldn’t stop the 49ers’ hot shooting.
“It’s not really one pinpoint thing, which is what the tough part is,” Schlemer said about Cal Poly’s recent skid. “If we all work hard together, then maybe we can find out what’s going on together.”
Mimnaugh sent a positive message to her team after the losses, according to Schlemer.
“She was telling us that we all need to find the joy in basketball again because these past two games have been tough,” Schlemer said.
The loss drops the Mustangs’ conference record to 8-3 and leaves them tied with Cal State Northridge for first place in the Big West Conference.
“(We’ve got to) just flush these games and then go into practice this week and work on everything we felt we didn’t do well this week,” Schlemer said.
Schlemer finished with 19 points while senior guard Jonae Ervin had 17 points off the bench.
The next challenge for the Mustangs will be on the road against Cal State Fullerton. The Titans are 5-4 in conference play and 9-13 overall.