Led by a 30-point performance from Abbey Ellis, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team is moving on to the semifinals at the Big West Conference Tournament, as the Mustangs earned a 70-49 quarterfinals victory over UC Irvine on Wednesday evening at Walter Pyramid.
Ellis made 11 of her 16 shots overall, including 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc, and added a 3-of-4 night at the free-throw line. Named to the Big West All-Freshman Team on Monday, the point guard from Yallambie, Australia was seven points back of her season high, while also securing six rebounds and claiming two steals.
Mustang grad forward Alicia Roufosse added an 18-point, eight-rebound effort, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and 6-for-7 at the foul line. Meanwhile, junior forward Sierra Campisano also scored in double-figures for her seventh straight game, netting 14 points.
The wire-to-wire neutral-court win sends Cal Poly to the Honda Center in Anaheim, where top-seeded UC Davis awaits at 12 noon Friday. Earlier this year, the defending champion Aggies rallied for a 42-36 comeback in San Luis Obispo on Jan. 25 before winning 71-58 in Northern California on Feb. 12.
Wednesday’s game was played without spectators admitted, due to health concerns over the spread of coronavirus, which has prompted several conferences & the NCAA, as well as various professional leagues in a handful of sports around the globe to limit distance between fans in crowds, prohibit all but essential personnel, or outright suspend or cancel events altogether.
However, ESPN3/WatchESPN will televise the March 13 matchup vs. UCD, while action will also be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1280 AM/101.7 FM The Ticket, with streaming links available via GoPoly.com.
The Mustangs sprinted out to a 10-2 lead four minutes from Wednesday’s opening tip, on the way to a 22-17 advantage heading into the second quarter. Cal Poly scored the final five points of the first half thanks to an Ellis 3 and then a Roufosse jumper, stretching the gap to 35-22 by intermission.
With 6:18 remaining in the third quarter, Campisano knocked down a 3 in front of the Cal Poly bench, igniting a 14-0 run lasting all the way until almost two minutes had been elapsed in the fourth, with the No. 8-seeded Mustangs extending their lead over the third-seeded Anteaters (13-18) to 54-30. The lead then ballooned to as many as 29 with 3:35 left on the clock, when Ellis made a free throw to make it 66-37.
Cal Poly (11-18), which has now won five of its last seven games, had a 26-8 advantage in points-in-the-paint, while balancing the inside game with an 8-for-15 display from deep.
The Mustangs previously made the semifinals in 2018, when they advanced with a double-bye as the No. 2 seed. Since the conference implemented the double-bye originally from 2004-11 and then re-instituted the format in 2013, this is the first occasion an eighth seed has advanced to the semifinal round.
Wednesday’s win brought Cal Poly’s season average of points allowed to 60.2 per game, on pace to be the stingiest defensive figure by a Mustang squad since the 1976-77 team gave up only 58.5 points per game.
-Provided by Cal Poly