Junior forward Kristina Santiago became the fifth leading scorer in Mustang Program history with a 15-point effort to propel Cal Poly (12-6, 5-2 Big West) to a 73-60 win against Cal State Northridge (3-13, 1-5) Saturday night.
Santiago surpassed three-time All-Big West selection Jessica Eggleston as the fifth-leading scorer in Mustang program history. With 1,055 collegiate points, Santiago requires just 21 points to supplant Sherrie Atteberry (1983-87) for the fourth spot on the Cal Poly career-scoring chart.
While Santiago is slowly etching her name in the Mustang record books, her mindset is not about scoring, it’s about setting up opportunities for her teammates.
“I’m playing with mostly double and triple teams anytime I get close to the basket,” Santiago said. “My mindset has changed to go set a screen and get someone else open… It’s not a one person sport.”
Other than Santiago, Rachel Clancy and Brittany Lange were two other Mustangs that finished the game with double figures. Clancy tallied 13 points, while Lange added 15.
“We fell apart as a team, we stopped playing team ball. A lot of players started to do too much,” Santiago said. “Going into Northridge we were really trying to get back into that team player philosophy… It was an improvement from the game against Riverside.”
Cal Poly kept pace in the Big West Conference regular season title chase despite shooting just 34.3 percent from the floor and converting only four of 16 three-point attempts. The Mustangs, 21-for-28 from the free throw line, committed just 11 fouls and sent the Matadors to the free throw line just nine times. Sophomore guard Ariel Gregersen finished with eight rebounds and freshman guard Caroline Reeves grabbed a career-best seven for the Mustangs, who matched a season high with 52 boards.
Despite this season’s success the Mustangs are still working hard towards their goal of winning a conference championship.
“Our team is still pretty confident,” Santiago said. “We’re still working hard…We know we are not going to get (to the Big West championship) easy. Every time we go to practice, every time we got to shoot around, we know we still have to work our butts off—it’s not going to come easy.”
Cal Poly, which has prevailed against Cal State Northridge during nine of the previous 10 matchups, failed to trail the Matadors by less than a field goal. Lange’s lone three-pointer of the afternoon broke a 15-15 deadlock with eight minutes remaining before intermission as Cal Poly closed the opening half with a 21-4 run.
Up 36-19 at the break, the Mustangs led by as much as 55-32 with 11-and-a-half minutes to play. The Matadors successfully whittled Cal Poly’s advantage to 67-58 with less than two minutes remaining, but the Mustangs knocked down seven of their last eight free throw attempts to preserve victory.
Senior guard Ashlee Stewart finished with six assists for Cal Poly.
Santiago’s Saturday double-double was also her fifth of the season.
The Mustangs return home to host U.C. Santa Barbara on Thursday, Jan. 28. Tip-off time in Mott Gym is scheduled for 7 p.m.