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. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

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.

Cal Poly UCSB basketball05019
Donovan Fields shoots in Cal Poly's Big West Conference opener Jan. 4 against UCSB. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

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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