The Mustangs held the Matadors to nine points in the fourth quarter. Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News, 2023

Cal Poly Women’s Basketball defeated CSU Northridge 61-50 on Saturday, Feb. 11 inside Mott Athletics Center. 

Cal Poly held Women in Sports Day as the Mustangs (7-15, 4-10 Big West) took the victory over the Matadors (5-19, 4-10 Big West). 

YouTube video
Video by Anthony Molleson

CSUN jumped out to an early 9-2 advantage to start out the game, playing aggressively despite missing leading scorer Tess Amundsen. Cal Poly responded with solid team play, tallying eight assists in the first quarter. CSUN dominated inside, though, scoring 16 of its 19 points in the paint with the score knotted up at 19 to close the first.

In the second quarter of action, the Mustangs struck first with a 5-0 run to start out the period. While Cal Poly held strong in the beginning of the second, the Matadors shut them out in the final three minutes of the first half, going on a 6-1 run to keep the game tied 29-29 at halftime. 

CSUN continued its pick-and-roll heavy attack to begin the third. The Matadors relied heavily on graduate guard Jordyn Jackson, as she continually punished the Mustangs for going under screens, knocking down multiple pull-up jumpers. 

Jackson scored eight of her 18 points in the third, but sophomore guard Annika Shah matched her and hit two key three-pointers to end the quarter and kept the Mustangs trailing by just two heading into the fourth.

“Our whole focus is to continue fighting and playing harder than our opponent every single game,” Shah said. “A lot of teams outlook us just from our size and being younger but if we continue to fight and lock into every single game we’re going to be able to pull out these little wins that we need down the stretch to end conference.”

In the final period, the Mustangs turned up the intensity. Cal Poly strengthened its resolve and brought it on the defensive end, holding the Matadors without a field goal for four of the final five minutes. 

Outscoring CSUN 22-9 in the quarter, the Mustangs were also the aggressors on the offensive end and knocked down key free throws (13-for-17 in the fourth) to close the game. Cal Poly ended the game on a 13-1 run to secure its fourth conference victory. 

“I think we’re really locked in on defense, defense is what makes us go,” sophomore guard Sydney Bourland said. “We’re focused on getting stop after stop and when we get a stop, it makes our shots more likely to fall… When we have good defensive games, that’s when we get the W.”

Head coach Shanele Stires echoed Bourland’s sentiments and explained how their defensive positions to end the game was key to victory.

“Late in the game, we were able to keep the ball on the perimeter more and that really played into our hands,” Stires said. “We were able to maintain boxout position and not get into defensive rotations or scramble situations where we were leaving people unaccounted for [while] boxing them out, those two things really separated the game in the fourth quarter.”

It was the Mustangs’ outside shooting and rebounding that was the difference on offense. They knocked down six triples (6-for-14) and corralled 38 rebounds compared to CSUN’s zero three-pointers (0-for-10) and 29 total rebounds.

Shah led the way with a team-high of 18 points and six assists while going 4-for-6 from three. Junior forward Natalia Ackerman secured her first career double-double, collecting 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Mustangs will continue Big West play as they face off with Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday, Feb. 15 inside the Icardo Center.