Cal Poly

March Madness is here: Cal Poly men's and women's hoops enter conference tournament play

Cal Poly’s Dynn Leaupepe advances the ball as Hawaii’s Rachel Odumu defends in a Big West Conference women’s basketball game earlier this season.
Cal Poly’s Dynn Leaupepe advances the ball as Hawaii’s Rachel Odumu defends in a Big West Conference women’s basketball game earlier this season.

The postseason is here for both the Cal Poly men's and women's basketball teams with conference tournament play starting Thursday.

The men's team (9-21, 4-12 Big West), which wrapped up the No. 7 seed in the eight-team tournament, gets things started with a first-round game Thursday against UC Santa Barbara at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The women's team (17-11, 11-5 Big West) will have an easier route to a potential tournament championship as the second seed, which earned the Mustangs a double-bye into the semifinals Friday, a game also to be held at the Honda Center.

It's the fourth consecutive time the Mustang men have entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed, this year following a four-win conference season, their worst campaign since they equaled that win total during the 2015-16 season.

The Mustangs previous worst was a 3-13 Big West season in 2007-08.

Cal Poly and UCSB have an interesting history together in the tournament.

Cal Poly was a seven seed during its first and only Big West Tournament championship run in 2014, the last year the Mustangs won a conference tournament game. That year, Cal Poly beat UCSB in the first round in blowout fashion (69-38) a week after losing to the Gauchos by 16 points. Cal Poly also went on to win its opening game in the NCAA Tournament. Cal Poly is 10-14 in 15 previous Big West Tournament appearances.

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Donovan Fields shoots in Cal Poly's Big West Conference opener Jan. 4 against UCSB. David Middlecamp

The Mustangs are hoping history will repeat itself after losing 86-61 to UCSB in the regular-season finale Saturday. Cal Poly split the season series with the Gauchos, the top-scoring offense in the Big West, with a dramatic 80-79 comeback win at home to open conference play Jan. 4.

The game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with action televised live on Fox Prime Ticket.

Cal Poly women on a roll

The Cal Poly women’s team, on the other hand, is coming off its best regular season since the 2013-14 season. The Mustangs' win over Hawai’i on Saturday locked up the No. 2 seed and secured a double-bye into the semifinals, along with top-seeded UC Davis.

Cal Poly will be led by senior guard Dynn Leaupepe, who was named first-team All-Big West this week. Her 30 points in the season finale against Hawai’i marked the seventh time this season she has scored 30 or more in a game this season. She is averaging 21 points per game this season, tops in the Big West and 18th in the nation.

Cal Poly will face the highest-remaining seed to emerge from the opening two rounds and is scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

A tournament championship for either team would secure an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Big West Tournament

Cal Poly men vs. UC Santa Barbara, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Honda Center, Anaheim (Fox Prime Ticket)

Cal Poly women vs. TBA, 2:30 p.m. Friday, Honda Center, Anaheim

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