Jefferson P. Nolan
As head coach Faith Mimnaugh predicted, it was “fast-pace mode” for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team against rival UC Davis. The Mustangs (8-6, 2-1 Big West Conference) defeated the Aggies (5-8, 0-2 Big West), 73-71 Thursday night in Mott Gym. And they did it while dealing with an offensive formation they had yet to face all year.
“The offensive establishment that Davis has makes it really difficult for our help defense,” Mimnaugh said. A week’s worth of practice and preparation, she said, were devoted solely to halting the two on two “Princeton style” offense.
And it worked.
By halftime, the Mustangs led the Aggies 43-32, making all of their free throws and shooting 54.8 percent from the floor. Junior center Molly Schlemer and senior forward Nikol Allison contributed to the team’s 19 rebounds by the half by notching 5 rebounds apiece.
Sophomore guard Ariana Elegado entered the matchup after scoring a team-high 20 points in the Mustangs’ win over UC Irvine last Saturday when the team notched their first Big West Conference victory.
“Ariana has always been a tremendous player,” Mimnaugh said. “She’s growing in confidence. Because she is such a multidimensional player, it makes it really hard for anybody to defend her. Ariana is taking her game to another level. She’s one of the best players in the league.”
Elegado delivered again with 16 points against the Aggies. But on Thursday night, it was senior forward Brittany Woodard who led the Mustangs to victory in Mott Gym by finishing the game with a career-high 21 points.
“We have many threats on the team who can step up,” Woodard said. “Davis is one of our biggest rivals. When someone’s not scoring as much, there are things that other people can do. It’s good when we are all flowing.”
UC Davis senior guard Cortney French made her mark against the Mustangs by notching a team high 26 points. Her drive helped her team chip away at Cal Poly’s lead, but it was not enough as the game came down to two-point margin.
“I think it’s great that we have a lot of players stepping up,” Elegado said. “My shot was off from the beginning. So in the beginning I tried driving and dishing out for assists, but overall, I think that everyone is a scorer on our team.”
After recording their second conference victory, coach Mimnaugh and her team now look onward to hosting Pacific on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Mott Gym.