Cal Poly women’s basketball fell to UC Irvine 64-52 on Saturday, Jan. 29 inside of Mott Athletics Center.
The Mustangs (1-13, 0-4 Big West) played in their second game after four consecutive cancellations stemming from the COVID-19 protocols. UC Irvine (10-8, 5-2 Big West) led the game wire-to-wire to pick up their sixth win in their last eight games.
Senior forward Hannah Scanlan was the offensive catalyst for the Mustangs, scoring a game-high and season-high 22 points, including 20 in the second half. However, the biggest margin of the game came from bench points where Irvine outscored the Mustangs 32-6.
Irvine started the game fast, taking control right away. The Anteaters opened the game on a 10-0 run with the first basket coming on a three-pointer by Kayla Williams.
The Mustangs broke the streak and got the scoring going on a jumpshot by freshman guard Sydney Bourland. They then cut the deficit to six points when graduate forward Kirsty Brown knocked down an elbow jumpshot.
However, this is as much damage as Cal Poly would do in the first quarter. The Anteaters closed the final 3:47 out on a 14-0 run to take a massive 24-4 lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter had a much slower pace, but was much tighter on the scoreboard. In fact, with the exception of one Anteater free throw early in the quarter, the first basket for either team did not come until there was only 3:46 remaining on the clock.
That basket was for Cal Poly, as were the next two, which completed a 6-0 run for Cal Poly. However, on the next possession down Williams took all of the momentum back, silencing the crowd with an and-one three-pointer. She missed the free-throw, but Irvine scored three more points before half to establish a halftime lead of 31-10.
The Mustangs did not go away quietly, opening the second half on a 9-0 run. Seven of those points came from Scanlan, including two consecutive and-one opportunities on the inside. She converted the second to cut the deficit to just 12 points.
Irvine then scored the next four points to push the lead back to 16. The teams traded baskets for the next three scoring possessions before Irvine finished the quarter on a 7-3 run to give the Anteaters an 18-point advantage going into the final quarter.
Cal Poly showed a lot of heart in the final quarter as they refused to roll over. Scanlan, who led the charge in the third quarter resurgence, was the team’s leading scorer in the final period as well. The Mustangs cut the deficit to nine at one point, but that was as close as the team would get. UC Irvine knocked down some free throws down the stretch to win the game by a final score of 64-52.
After the game Scanlan spoke about how the Mustangs were able to rally after halftime to keep the game close after a big first quarter deficit.
“We all just came together and we really focused on defense, and our defense just built our offense,” Scanlan said. “We got those stops and those fast offensive transition breaks, and it kind of just fueled our offense.”
Brown talked about the team’s mindset at halftime to fix their mistakes from the first half to improve in the second.
“Our motivation coming out of halftime was to think the game is 0-0, try and win each quarter,” Brown said. “Don’t think about the overall score, and that ended up working out in our favor. We won the third and fourth quarter, so now we know when it comes to future games to start like that from the beginning, and don’t get down, and then we have a better chance to win.”
The Mustangs have two more upcoming home games with the first matchup against Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.