The Cal Poly women’s basketball team was within three in the final 30 seconds, and senior center Molly Schlemer had a career game, but the Mustangs eventually fell 96-89 at UCLA in the final nonconference game before the start of Big West Conference play Saturday.
Schlemer, the reigning Big West Player of the Year, scored 29 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Cal Poly (6-7), while junior guard Ariana Elegado poured in 21 and Kristen Ale came off the bench to score 16.
Ale’s layup with 32 seconds left in the game cut the Bruins’ lead to 88-85, but UCLA (6-6) cashed in at the free-throw line, scoring 14 of its final 16 points at the stripe.
Schlemer hit 14 of 20 from the floor, and Elegado nailed five of nine from 3-point range.
The Bruins were led by Nirra Fields’ 36 points, and Atonye Nyingifa and Thea Lemberger added 23 apiece for UCLA.
The Bruins held several double-digit leads in both halves, but each time, Cal Poly came back with a big run of its own.
The Mustangs leveraged a 13-1 run in the first to help limit UCLA to a 43-40 lead at the break, and after the Bruins got up 71-59 midway through the second half, Cal Poly eventually cut the lead to 82-79 on a 3-pointer by Elegado with 3:35 left.
The Mustangs are idle until Jan. 8, when they open Big West play on the road at Hawaii at 9 p.m.
Cuesta 61, Santa Ana 49
Miriam Zabinsky had 19 points and seven rebounds as the Cougars (13-1) rolled to the win at the Grossmont tourney.
Melissa Lemus had 15 points, seven steals and three assists for Cuesta, which led 28-21 at halftime.
Fresno City 60, Cuesta 53
The perennial power Rams went on a 9-0 run late to seize control against the Cougars at the Allan Hancock tourney.
Oscar Pedroso had 21 points for Cuesta, and Brett Hartshorne supplied 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.