The Cal Poly women’s basketball team edged Cal State Fullerton 51-46 on Saturday in its first game of a three-game homestand.
Both teams kept it close during the first quarter. After a short-lived 7-6 lead for the Mustangs (9-7, 2-1 Big West), the Titans (2-15, 0-3) came back to end the first quarter with an 11-9 lead.
Down at the top of the second quarter, the Mustangs gained more offensive energy with a three-pointer by junior forward Amanda Lovely. However, the Titans extended their lead by responding with a three-pointer of their own.
The Mustangs soon regained control as they closed in on the Titans, tying the game at 22.
Tied again at 24 points, junior forward Hannah Gilbert scored a layup with less than a minute to go in the half. The first half ended with the Mustangs up two points, 26-24.
The Titans’ Samantha Logan put Fullerton on top with a three-pointer at the beginning of the second half. Jade Vega made another three-pointer soon after to bring the score to a 33-28 lead for the Titans.
The Mustangs threw away a big opportunity to score after losing possession from an errant pass by junior guard Rachel Koehler. However, Gilbert and sophomore guard Gabby Grupalo scored field goals to bring the score back to only a three-point deficit for Cal Poly.
Gilbert then scored two more back-to-back field goals and a free throw with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. Senior guard Lisa Marie Sanchez brought in two more points to put the Mustangs on top 41-39 at the end of the period.
Sanchez hit her stride in the fourth quarter, nailing a three at the beginning and finishing with eight of the Mustangs’ 10 points in the final period. She outscored the entire Fullerton team, which recorded just seven points in the fourth.
“If my shot’s there, I’m going to take it. (I’m) confident enough that it’s going to go in,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez made two free throws to bring the Mustangs to a 51-46 lead toward the end of the fourth quarter.
“She’s a very good scorer,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “She’s been dealing with the flu all week, so it was a really tough performance for her. I wasn’t even sure if she was going to play the second half, so (it was) a remarkable, gutsy performance from her.”
Despite the win, Mimnaugh said that the team could have played better offensively, especially in its shot selection. The Mustangs shot 31 percent from the field and 15 percent from beyond the arc.
“We have a strong contingency of post players, and I feel like we just didn’t utilize them enough,” she said. “We just settled for threes too frequently.”
Both Sanchez and Gilbert finished with 12 points for the Mustangs on 63 percent and 50 percent shooting respectively. The rest of the team shot 9-42 (21 percent) from the field.
The team moves on to face CSUN on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m.