Cal Poly women’s basketball lost its first-round matchup in the conference tournament against Cal State Fullerton by a score of 70-64 on Tuesday, Mar. 8 in Henderson, Nev. 

The Mustangs (3-22, 2-13 Big West) came in as the tenth seed and their season came to a close in their loss to the No. 7 seed Titans (11-17, 5-12 Big West).

Cal Poly got out to a slow start in the first quarter, as they only put up five total points in the quarter compared to the 14 of Fullerton.

However, in the second quarter, the team responded and scored 24 points to the Titans’ 14. Junior guard Maddie Willett hit a three-pointer to start the quarter, which was followed by a layup from junior forward Julia Nielacna. After those two buckets, sophomore guard Junie Dickson nailed a three-pointer to cap off the Cal Poly run. At the end of the first half, the Mustangs led 29-28. 

Momentum shifted again in the third after Fullerton shot 61% from the field in the quarter to recapture the lead. The Mustangs kept the game close in the third quarter as the Titans held only a one or two-possession lead throughout, but Cal Poly wasn’t able to take the lead at any point as the quarter ended 50-47 in favor of Fullerton.

The Titans built some separation early in the fourth quarter and stretched the lead to eight points, but the Mustangs cut the lead back down to four with 4:52 left in the game after junior point guard Maddie Vick made two free throws.

That is the closest the game got, however. Fullerton was able to close the game out by converting on offense and making their free throws down the stretch. 

The Titans will move on to face the No. 2 seed in UC Irvine on Wednesday, Mar. 8.

Nielacna led the way for the Mustangs with 19 points while Vick and Willett followed with 14 and 13, respectively.

Across the 2021-22 season, Vick led the team in scoring and minutes played, as she averaged 10.2 points per game and recorded 889 minutes on the season. Graduate forward Kirsty Brown, who also broke the program record in career games played, led in rebounds at 5.1 per game.

With the loss, the Mustangs wrapped up a tough season where they finished the year 3-22 overall and 2-13 in conference play. With six Mustangs honored at Senior Day earlier in the season, there may be some roster shakeup during the offseason.

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