Zoe Stachowski (24), Maddie Willett (33) and Sierra Campisano (52) all look to get a rebound as Cal Poly Women’s Basketball faces UC Irvine on Saturday, January 23, 2021 (MANDATORY CREDIT: Kyle Calzia / Mustang News)

Cal Poly Women’s Basketball failed to complete its late comeback in a 79-70 overtime defeat against UC Irvine on Saturday, Jan. 23 inside Mott Athletics Center.

UC Irvine (7-5, 4-0 Big West) continued its unbeaten conference streak, as Cal Poly (5-5, 1-3 Big West) recorded its third consecutive defeat in conference play.

Irvine guard Kayla Williams led all players and recorded a season-high 32 points in the UC Irvine victory. Freshman forward Natalia Ackerman clinched her first career double-double, posting a career-high 15 points with 10 rebounds. Senior forward Sierra Campisano added her fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. 

UC Irvine started the game by winning the tip-off and immediately converting a layup within the first 10 seconds. The Anteaters continued their hot offensive start to the game with guard Dani Guglielmo, scoring their second three-pointer within the first two minutes to bring the score to 8-2. 

Abbey Ellis sank a jumper from beyond the arc to cut the deficit to two points at 12-10 with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter. UC Irvine closed out the quarter with a free throw to lead 21-14.

After going scoreless in the first quarter, Campisano opened the scoring for the Mustangs in the second quarter within 22 seconds. However, Williams immediately responded with a deep three-pointer to extend the Anteaters’ lead to 24-16. 

The Mustangs turned on their scoring efforts as Campisano initiated a 10-2 run in which she contributed six points to cut the deficit to 28-26. UC Irvine entered the half with a 35-28 lead.

In the first half, the Anteaters were led by Williams with 16 points as Campisano and Ackerman paced Cal Poly with eight and seven points respectively. UC Irvine forced Cal Poly to turn over the ball 12 times off of which they converted 11 points, but the Mustangs led the rebounding battle 21-11. 

The second half started off slow with the first basket converted by the Anteaters after a minute and a half of play to make it 37-28. However, both teams picked up the pace midway into the quarter as they exchanged baskets, including three 3-point field goals from each side to close the quarter at 55-45. 

Ackerman continued her momentum as she opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back layups to bring the score to 55-49. However, Irvine responded with a 5-0 run to distance themselves at 60-49.

Thanks to effective passing and piercing offensive play, the Mustangs fired off a six-minute 13-0 run capped off by a layup courtesy of senior forward Kirsty Brown to take their first lead of the game at 62-60 with 1:31 remaining on the clock. 

However, less than 30 seconds later, Williams sunk a deep three to regain the lead at 63-62. Another 30 seconds later, sophomore guard Maddie Willet converted a layup to put Cal Poly in the lead at 64-63. 

With 8 seconds remaining until the final buzzer, Brown committed a foul which granted UC Irvine two scoring attempts at the dotted line. The Anteaters converted a free-throw to take the game into overtime at 64-64. 

Ellis fouled out for her second consecutive game with 2:16 remaining, leaving the Mustangs without their biggest offensive threat. 

UC Irvine entered the overtime period with a 5-0 scoring drive capped off by a three-pointer from Williams to put the score at 69-64.

The Mustangs looked to complete another late comeback as they came within one point at 71-70 with 58 seconds remaining. However, the Anteaters pulled away thanks to another Williams three to make it 74-70. 

Throughout the remaining 40 seconds, UC Irvine continued to extend its lead, converting 5 points from free throws to finish the game at 79-70. 

Cal Poly shot 41% from the field compared to UC Irvine’s 47% and committed more turnovers (18-14). 

Cal Poly will be on the road for its next four games, facing UC Riverside next inside SRC Arena on Saturday, Jan. 30.

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