A slow start offensively and a unorthodox 3-2 zone defense proved too much for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team to overcome as the Mustangs fell 61-53 against UC Davis in a Big West Conference matchup Thursday night at Mott Athletics Center.
Cal Poly trailed wire-to-wire and dropped to 7-13 overall and 3-5 in the Big West following its fifth loss in the last six games. The Aggies, who entered Thursday tied with UC Santa Barbara for second place in the conference standings, improved to 16-6 overall and 7-2 against Big West opponents.
The Mustangs pulled within 55-50 after a Breezi Holt jump shot with 1:59 remaining, but they committed turnovers on their next two possessions and UC Davis made its final six free throws to close out the victory.
“Right when we kept getting right where we wanted to, then we had a turnover of some nature,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “The girls still fought hard, I just think we’ve got to play better together.”
How it happened
Continuous ball movement around the perimeter and well-timed back door cuts help the Aggies generate high-percentage shots offensively. A UC Davis team that leads the Big West in points (71.0), field-goal percentage (44.4) and assists (17.3) per game certainly looked the part Thursday night.
Morgan Bertsch scored a game-high 20 points to lead three Aggies in double figures. Pele Gianotti added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Rachel Nagel contributed 12 points and eight rebounds for the visitors.
Mimnaugh said she was pleased with Cal Poly holding UC Davis to four made 3-pointers, less than half of its season average. The Mustangs also out-rebounded the Aggies 46-37 but couldn’t overcome their 23 turnovers.
“Their 3-point shooting is obviously one of their greatest strengths, so our help line is a little bit different when we face them,” Mimnaugh said. “Normally, our help line would be there for back doors, but we kind of have to make a choice between giving up twos and giving up threes.”
Injured Gilbert moves up
With sophomore point guard Dye Stahley pushing a frenetic pace offensively, the Mustangs got several open looks at the basket in the opening quarter. However, they weren’t able to take advantage and started the game 1-for-13 from the field.
Cal Poly would pull within 16-11 at the end of the first quarter and trailed 32-24 by halftime. The Mustangs finished the game shooting 34.4 percent from the field and 25 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Junior forward Emily Anderson benefited from some extra playing time, scoring a team-high nine points on three made 3-pointers.
Senior Hannah Gilbert, who played through a nagging Achilles tendon injury, added six points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Gilbert is now No. 7 on Cal Poly’s career rebound list with 610.
Stahley recorded a game-high six assists, to go with four rebounds and four points.
Cal Poly is scheduled to host UC Riverside at 4 p.m. Saturday in another Big West doubleheader. The men’s basketball team also will host UC Riverside at 7 p.m. Saturday.