After landing on her neck and back, Cal Poly women’s basketball star Kristina Santiago was sent to the hospital with a neck brace for precautionary reasons, according to a Cal Poly spokesman. Santiago scored 10 points in 10 minutes before exiting late in the first half of a 79-69 victory over Austin Peay, leaving the Mustangs without their senior forward once again.
Santiago said after the game that she believes she will be OK. Her status for today’s game against San Jose State is unclear.
Santiago — a former Righetti High standout who was the Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2009-10 — was lost to a torn ACL in the season opener last year.
On Saturday, Santiago went down hard and was attended to on the floor as the 255 in attendance at Mott Gym fell silent. She was able to stand and was helped off the court but did not return to the game.
Ashlee Burns scored a team-high 22 points, and Christine Martin came off the bench to add 17 points as the Mustangs (2-2) opened their Thanksgiving Invitational tournament in bittersweet fashion.
Burns and Martin nailed four 3-pointers apiece, and Cal Poly overcame a game-high 25 points from Whitney Hanley of Austin Peay (2-3).
Cal Poly’s Caroline Reeves scored only five points but registered game highs with 10 rebounds and six assists. Mustangs guard Jonae Ervin also had six assists. Only seven of Cal Poly’s 27 field goals went unassisted.
Martin started 4 of 4 on 3-pointers, and the Mustangs shrugged off Santiago’s injury to lead 37-30 at the half. Santiago, who led the team with 27.3 points and 14.7 rebounds per game coming in, scored Cal Poly’s first seven points of the game to spur the Mustangs to a 7-2 lead. Cal Poly went ahead by eight on a 3-pointer by Brittany Woodard at the 15:48 mark.
MEN’S BASKETBALLCal Poly 72, Mississippi Valley State 55
Former Morro Bay High standout Dylan Royer scored a career-high 18 points and drained five 3-pointers — another collegiate best —to lead Cal Poly in scoring in its final game of the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas.
“The word is confidence,” head coach Joe Callero said of Royer. “He’s been a great shot for years, but until you’ve played in the big games and made big shots, you can’t be sure. He had big games off the bench last year, and now he understands that is his role.”
With big shots Friday in the game against Morgan State and again on Saturday against the Delta Devils, it appears that his confidence is here to stay.
“To me an open shot is an open shot,” said Royer. “Regardless of what the point is in the game, I’m going to shoot it with confidence. I’ve been super confident this year that I can get good shot and my teammates have been excellent at finding me. Being a spot- up shooter, I need my teammates to find me.”
They have. Senior guard Amaurys Fermin set a career-high with eight assists in the game, a performance that earned him a spot on the all-tournament team.
“Amaurys’ court vision tonight was phenomenal,” Callero said. “I thought that he played a good game Friday, but he played a great game tonight. He was the best player on the floor. He gives us a player that makes the team better and everyone around him better.”
Fermin finished with 12 points and three rebounds to go with his eight assists.
“He’s been great,” said Royer. “The stats will show that he’s a great passer, but it’s more than that. His leadership on the court is tremendous. He finds the open guy and gets everyone involved.”
Cal Poly held a six-point lead at the half, up 32-26, but Mississippi Valley State went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. However, Cal Poly answered with a 15-0 run of its own to put the Delta Devils away and give the team the lead for good.
“It wasn’t just one guy,” Callero said. “It wasn’t Royer or Fermin, it was the team. We passed the ball well and played good defense and got the win.”
With the victory, the Mustangs finish atop their four-team portion of the bracket and leave Nevada with a 4-2 record overall and a 3-1 record in the tournament thanks to back-to-back wins this weekend and a win over USC on Nov. 19.
“We always have the same mantra: We want to keep improving,” Callero said. “This was a good week for our team.”
David Hanson had 13 points and three assists, and Drake U’u had 13 points and three rebounds in the victory.
The Mustangs next play Wednesday at home against Sacramento State.