Cal Poly cut a first-quarter 10-point deficit to a four-point gap by halftime Saturday facing defending Big West Tournament champion CSUN, but the Matador women’s basketball team used a 19-6 third quarter to pull away for a 61-49 conference victory in front of a crowd of 1,567 at Mott Athletics Center.
Destiny Brooks gave CSUN its largest first-half lead, 16-6, on a 3-pointer with 1:43 left in the initial period, before the Mustangs closed the quarter with a jumper from junior forward Alicia Roufosse and then a layup by freshman guard Alli Hallberg to trail 16-10.
Cal Poly tied the game at 27-all thanks to a 3 from freshman guard Maddie Willett. The Matadors (15-13, 9-5), however, struck back on the next possession, as senior center Channon Fluker collected an offensive rebound of a Juliana Louis miss, kicking it out to Brooks for a go-ahead 3. Fluker would add the final points before intermission on a layup, sending CSUN to the break up 32-28.
After a Roufosse free throw brought Cal Poly within 36-31 at the 6:23 mark of the third, CSUN went on a 13-0 run to establish a commanding 18-point lead. A layup by Eliza Matthews capped the game-changing stretch with a minute to play in the quarter, giving the Matadors a 49-31 lead.
Beginning the fourth quarter up 51-34, CSUN took its largest advantage of the evening thanks to a jump shot from senior guard Serafina Maulupe stretching the margin to 59-37 with 6:02 to play. Maulupe, a Preseason All-Conference selection, matched the same lead by converting a layup to make it 61-39 with 4:52 remaining.
The Mustangs (6-20, 3-12) finished the game with 10 consecutive points, as Roufosse started the run with a jumper with 4:38 left, and added another mid-range shot 18 seconds later.
Roufosse sank back-to-back free throws to narrow the gap to 16 with 3:18 on the clock, before junior forward Hana Vesela hit a jumper to bring Cal Poly within 61-47 with 1:56 showing. Neither squad scored for the ensuing minute-and-a-half, though, until two more foul shots by Vesela with just 15 seconds remaining accounted for the final score.
Roufosse, making her second start of the year, finished 6-for-14 overall, and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line on her way to a game-high 16-point effort to go with eight rebounds. Cal Poly, missing starting senior center Devin Stanback, was outscored 26-8 off the bench after moving Roufosse into the Starting 5.
Cal Poly senior point guard Dye Stahley, who entered the day as the conference leader in both steals and assists, added two more steals and five assists in addition to six points. Stahley upped her career totals to 340 assists (No. 6 in school history) and 158 steals (No. 13 all-time). Also playing on Senior Day, senior forward Katie Nunnelley went 4-for-7 from the floor en route to eight points and four rebounds.
Fluker and Brooks each paced CSUN with 14 points apiece, while Maulupe added 12.
Fluker, a USA Basketball Training Camp invitee who came into the day No. 1 in the nation in blocks per game (3.8), swatted two more shots Saturday.
Coupled with UCSB’s 61-44 win over UC Riverside later in the evening, Cal Poly will miss the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2005. The Mustangs finish the season at first-place UC Davis on Wednesday.
–Provided by Cal Poly