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The Cal Poly women’s basketball team (4-3) came away with a tough road victory against Santa Clara (3-2) Tuesday night, winning 79-73.
The Broncos came into the game riding a three-game winning streak, including wins over UC Santa Barbara and national powerhouse LSU. Cal Poly was coming off a split weekend at the ShareSLO Holiday tournament. It lost to Dartmouth in a poor performance on Saturday but rebounded nicely to take down Texas A&M – Corpus Christi on Sunday.
The Mustangs played significantly better and were able to win on Tuesday, but it wasn’t pretty. They shot just 40 percent from the field, committed 23 turnovers and had four players foul out.
It was a total team effort that lifted the Mustangs to victory — four players scored in double figures and the Mustangs also accumulated 36 bench points.
Senior guard Ariana Elegado finished with 16 points, highlighted by a perfect 12-of-12 performance from the free-throw line, but only shot 2-of-7 from the field.
Freshmen twin sisters, guards Dynn and Lynn Leaupepe, continued their strong freshmen campaigns, registering double-digit scoring performances. Dynn was a menace on both ends of the court. She equaled her season high of 15 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting, while adding seven rebounds and three steals.
Lynn nearly had a double-double, contributing 10 points and nine rebounds.
“Even though (Lynn and Dynn) are freshmen, they already have huge roles,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “They do a lot of the little things like rebounding and rotating on defense that makes our team go.”
Senior guard Kristen Ale continued her hot shooting with 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. She had a key four-point play with only 3:01 remaining, giving the Mustangs a 71-61 lead and essentially sealing the game.
However, Ale’s biggest contribution on Tuesday night was not her shooting, but her lockdown defense on Santa Clara’s star player, Nici Gilday. In her most recent game, Gilday exploded for 29 points and also had a 40-point game earlier in the season.
Ale put the handcuffs on Gilday, holding her to a dreadful 4-of-19 shooting, which included 2-of-10 from downtown.
“Kristen is such an intelligent player,” Mimnaugh said. “She never backs down from a challenge, always knows when and where to be on the court and just simply makes our team better.”
The entire Cal Poly defense also played well, holding the Broncos to only shoot 36 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range.
However, the Mustangs trailed the Broncos early on 30-24 in the first half, but went on a 13-2 run to close out the half with a 37-32 advantage. Cal Poly maintained its advantage until the end of the game.
According to Mimnaugh, the difference for the Mustangs was when they dictated the pace of the game. They forced the Broncos into 23 turnovers, kick-starting the Mustangs’ potent up-tempo transition offense.
The Mustangs were able to capitalize in transition as well, outscoring the Broncos 8-0 in fast-break points.
“Santa Clara is a really good team and we were very fortunate to come out on top,” Mimnaugh said. “I’m proud of how our team came together at the end. These tough games will teach us, especially our young players, how to win.”
The Mustangs return home to host Saint Mary’s at 2 p.m. on Dec. 14 in Mott Athletics Center.