Sophomore forward Dynn Leaupepe came off the bench to score a team-high 12 points, and Cal Poly survived a furious late rally to defeat Fresno State 64-60 in a nonconference women’s basketball game Saturday night at Mott Athletics Center.
Leaupepe was one of four Mustangs to reach double-digit scoring, marking the second time in eight games this season Cal Poly has achieved that feat. Lisa Marie Sanchez and Beth Balbierz scored 11 points apiece, and Hannah Gilbert finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Mustangs improved to 5-3 overall with their third consecutive victory heading into a seven-day break in between games for finals week.
“Defensively I think that we’ve really made some great strides,” head coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “The rebounding effort that we’ve put in the last few games, I think, has been significant to contributing to our success.”
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The Bulldogs (3-5) have historically dominated the series with Cal Poly, winning 16 of the previous 18 meetings entering Saturday’s matchup. A resilient effort in the fourth quarter helped erase a double-digit deficit, but the Mustangs made just enough plays down the stretch to secure the victory.
Fresno State climbed back to within six points early in the final period, cutting the Mustangs’ lead to 54-46. But Sanchez and Balbierz responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from the right wing and to put Cal Poly ahead by 10 points.
Doing everything it could to hold off the Bulldogs, Leaupepe split a pair of free throws to give Cal Poly a 62-57 lead with less than a minute remaining. Fresno State refused to go quietly, however, as Breanne Knishka made her third 3-pointer of the game to make the score 62-60 with 11 seconds left.
Lynn Leaupepe, who finished with eight points and five rebounds in 19 minutes, made two free throws during the Mustangs’ ensuing possession to put the game away.
“I thought that we were a little bit tight (in the fourth quarter),” Mimnaugh said. “But the game certainly switched. The aggressiveness, the physicality I thought switched.”
Neither team could get much separation during a back-and-forth first half. The Mustangs were able to get consecutive stops late in the second quarter to take a 31-26 lead into halftime.
Reserve forward Emily Anderson made the first 3-pointer of her career with 1:35 left in the period, giving Cal Poly its largest lead of the game to that point at 29-23. Fresno State was limited to one field goal over the final 4:59 of the first half.
That stretch carried over through the first 3:02 of the third quarter, forcing Bulldogs’ head coach Jaime White to take a timeout. The break did little to slow Cal Poly, which executed a nice play out of the timeout that resulted in a wide-open 3-pointer for Balbierz.
Cal Poly is scheduled to play its next game at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 against Loyola Marymount.
“All of our players are in great positions academically,” Mimnaugh said. “Hopefully we can get through (finals) with some sleep and some nutrition.”