Cal Poly Women’s Basketball remained winless in conference play after a 68-57 loss to UC Irvine on Saturday, Jan. 18 inside Mott Athletics Center. Back-and-forth play carried the Mustangs into the fourth quarter with a one-point deficit, but the Anteaters pulled in away in the final ten minutes to secure the victory.

Cal Poly (3-11, 0-3 Big West), who lost its first two conference games by a combined five points, went 7 of 19 from the free throw line in the defeat. UC Irvine (5-12, 1-2) was paced by its bench, which scored 42 of the Anteaters’ 68 points. 

“I’m really proud of us, I thought we fought really hard,” junior forward Sierra Campisano said. “We’re getting better every game, there’s just little adjustments we need to make, but we all played really hard.”

Junior redshirt forward Sierra Campisano eyes the basket with a UC Irvine defender on her back. Diego Rivera | Mustang News

Cal Poly jumped to an early 7-2 lead with a three-pointer by Campisano followed by two layups by freshman guard Abbey Ellis. Cal Poly dominated the boards in the early-going through Campisano and senior forward Alicia Roufosse. Campisano is third in the Big West in rebounding with 8.5 rebounds per contest. 

An 8-0 run for UC Irvine, which included two three-pointers by guard Haleigh Talbert, gave the Anteaters a 10-9 lead with 3:00 remaining in the first quarter. Roufosse broke a five minute scoring drought for the Mustangs to regain the lead. However, UC Irvine entered the second quarter with a one-point lead at 12-11.

Campisano had five points in the first three minutes of the second quarter, including a layup to tie the game at 18-18. A steal and layup by guard Alexus Seaton pushed the Anteaters ahead at 28-22 with 2:52 left in the half. 

However, the Mustangs closed out the quarter with two buckets from Campisano as UC Irvine held onto a 28-26 lead going into halftime. Campisano had 11 points in the second quarter to help the Mustangs keep pace with UC Irvine’s potent three-point attack.. 18 of UC Irvine’s 28 first-half points came from behind the three-point line, including four three-pointers from Talbert.

The Mustangs opened the second half with three turnovers in the first two minutes and the Anteaters capitalized with two layups. An assist from junior guard Hannah Peterson to Campisano sparked momentum for the Mustangs, leading to a quick 5-0 run. 

Defensive intensity and success on the glass helped the Mustangs regain the lead at 38-36 after layups by Peterson and Ellis. The score remained close throughout the third quarter as back-to-back buckets by Talbert and guard Lauren Saiki gave UC Irvine a narrow 43-42 lead heading into the fourth.

UC Irvine opened the final quarter on an 11-3 run led by two three-pointers by guard Jayde Cadee. The scoring onslaught continued with another jumpshot by Saiki to make the score 56-45.

Freshman point guard Abbey Ellis drives past a defender with the help of a screen from teammate Kirsty Brown. Diego Rivera | Mustang News

UC Irvine held its double-digit lead for the majority of the final quarter. The Mustangs had the chance to overtake the lead once again after two late three-pointers by junior guard Chantel Govan cut the deficit to six points. However, the Anteaters kept their lead steady to deny a late comeback.

Missed free throws plagued the Mustangs in the second half. Despite plenty of chances, Cal Poly shot 36.8 percent at the free throw line (7 of 19) while UC Irvine scored 10 of 13 free throw attempts for a 76.9 percent success rate. Campisano scored a team-high 20 points in the defeat.

“We’ve been doing a lot of special [late-game] situations, I felt like we were better prepared for that today … a lack of mental focus, I think, is part of that,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “But, obviously today we really struggled from the free throw line.”

Cal Poly will look to regroup in its next match against UC Riverside on Thursday, Jan. 20. The game has a tip-off time of 7 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.

“We just have to play connected basketball,” Mimnaugh said. “Everyone do their job, play together, rotate together, box out together … [and to] have some poise.” 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *