The Cal Poly women’s basketball team fell victim to a huge second half from defending Big West Conference champion UC Riverside, losing 68-59 on Thursday night at SRC Arena in Riverside.
Cal Poly senior forward Hannah Gilbert grabbed seven boards to move to No. 8 in school history in career rebounding in the loss.
Things started off well for the Mustangs as they established a 9-3 lead four minutes in, but the Highlanders steadily rallied to close the opening quarter tied at 17-17.
UC Riverside (8-7 overall, 2-0 Big West) then regained the lead at 28-26 on a Réjane Vérin jumper with 4:15 remaining to halftime and went to the break up 37-31.
After beginning the fourth quarter ahead 55-46, the defending regular-season conference champion Highlanders took their largest lead of the evening at 64-48 on a pair of Verin free throws with 5:53 remaining.
The Mustangs (6-9, 2-1) battled back, going on a 9-0 run capped by a layup from junior Lynn Leaupepe to narrow the deficit to 66-59 with 2:06 left. UCR held on from there, however, coming up with key stops down the stretch and getting a jumper from Michelle Curry to complete the scoring with 1:31 to play.
Vérin finished with game highs of 25 points and 11 boards.
Gilbert now has 575 career rebounds to surpass Carolyn Crandall (573 from 1979-83).
Gilbert also scored 18 points on 9-of-16 shooting, while Leaupepe finished with a team-high 19 points along with seven assists and six rebounds.
Cal Poly will continue its road trip at Long Beach State (10-6, 1-0) on Saturday, with tipoff set for 4 p.m. at Walter Pyramid.