Senior center Molly Schlemer tied her career high scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in a 72-64 win over New Mexico State.
Jefferson P. Nolan
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It took a few games, but Molly Schlemer, last season’s Big West Player of the Year, finally found her mojo.
The Cal Poly women’s basketball team triumphed 72-64 over New Mexico State on Tuesday night, and Schlemer tied her career-high totals of 28 points and 17 rebounds for the Mustangs.
However, it wasn’t until the second half of Cal Poly’s first home game of the new season that the Santa Maria native re-emerged as the Mustangs dominant presence in the paint.
“I felt like I was in a funk the last couple of games,” Schlemer said. “The first half, I wasn’t doing too well. Just coming out in the second half, getting on fire and having my teammates get me the ball was a really big deal. For me, it was a good confidence booster. I was kind of searching myself these past three games, and tonight, I found it.”
After Schlemer recorded nine points in the first half, the Mustangs headed to the locker room down 33-31 to the Aggies.
“At halftime, we were all saying, ‘We can do way better than this. We should be beating this team by way more,’” Schlemer said. “We came out in the second half and took it too them like we know we could.”
In the second, Schlemer sunk nine of her 14 attempted shots from the floor, scoring 19 points. Senior guard Jonae Ervin contributed 11 points of her own and junior guard Ariana Elegado put up 10 to give Cal Poly the edge over New Mexico State.
But before last night’s victory against the Aggies, the Mustangs were winless on the young season.
“It was important because even when you look at that 0-3 record, it just doesn’t look good,” Schlemer said. “It doesn’t feel good either. It was really important to get that win, especially at home with our friends and family and all the support.”
After the Mustangs’ 86-51 loss to Stanford last week, head coach Faith Mimnaugh, in her 17th year at the helm of the Mustangs, knew her team is far different from last seasons’ squad.
Now only four games into the season, she is working with more than a few uncertainties.
“We have the knowns: Ervin, Elegado and Schlemer,” Mimnaugh said. “The unknowns are everybody else. These are things we’re tinkering with every single game to see who’s going to emerge.”
With the win, Mimnaugh was satisfied with how her team played, but didn’t see a complete game from the Mustangs.
“I don’t know if we have our combination yet, but we have a group on the court today who played well,” Mimnaugh said. “That was for about a seven-minute span, and I was happy about that. I don’t know if that’s our answer, but we’re still trying to tweak to form a group that works best together.”
Offensively, Mimnaugh said, she was satisfied with the multitude of players contributing to the score sheet. But defensively, it was a different story. Though the Mustangs took the lead early in the game, a faulty Cal Poly defense limited any offensive runs as New Mexico State responded to each made basket early in the game.
It wasn’t until the second half that Cal Poly began to establish a lead.
But they’re learning from their losses, Elegado said.
“We learn from all our mistakes,” she said. “We need to work on moving our feet, communicating on defense and we take all that to practice. Coach says every spot is up for grabs. Whoever works the hardest in practice is going to start.”