The Cal Poly women’s basketball season ended bitterly with a Big West Conference tournament semifinal loss in March, but everything was setting up for a banner year in 2010-11.
Until lightning struck twice for Kristina Santiago.
The 6-foot-2 senior forward from Righetti High — poised to leave Cal Poly as arguably its best player of all-time — was ready to defend her mantle as Big West Conference Player of the Year and was looking to get the Mustangs women into he NCAA Tournament for the first time.
The promise of postseason appearances also persuaded fifth-year senior Rachel Clancy, who was eager to return to her native Ireland, to come back to Cal Poly rather than pursue postgraduate studies in Europe.
With Clancy and Santiago, the team had a potent inside-outside one-two punch that was designed to finally get the Mustangs a Big West title.The plan lasted all of two minutes.
That’s how long it took for Santiago to blow out her left knee in the season opener at Seattle in November.
With a torn ACL, Santiago underwent season-ending surgery for the second time. She’d also sustained the same injury in her right knee at the end of her junior season with the Warriors.
Just as she came back and played as a high school senior, Santiago anticipates being able to return to Cal Poly next season. She will be able to gain redshirt status this year.
Now, the Mustangs (4-6) rest their playoff hopes on the shoulders of Clancy, the current Big West Player of the Week.