Led by the return of four starters from last season’s squad which advanced to the Big West Tournament semifinals before the stoppage of play, the Cal Poly women’s basketball program announced its 2020-21 schedule Wednesday. The conference also unveiled its league-wide respective schedule, while the Mustangs also have five non-conference matchups booked to start out, comprising a 25-game slate.
Subject to any necessary state and local approvals, all 11 conference member institutions will play 20 Big West games each, under a modified format designed to reduce travel. This season, teams will play the same opponent on back-to-back days at the same site, usually on Fridays & Saturdays.
Per the direction of the Big West Board of Directors, all teams will begin the season without spectators in attendance. The issue of fan attendance will be revisited as the season progresses. Stampede Club members with questions regarding ticket plans and packages are encouraged to contact development coordinator Sharon Wagner at (805) 756-6382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cal Poly will open visiting Stanford on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the national NCAA start day around the country. Stanford finished last winter ranked No. 7 in both the AP and USA Today WBCA Top 25 polls.
The Mustangs will then host a pair of non-league opponents inside Mott Athletics Center, first welcoming Dixie State on Nov. 28 before taking on Nevada Dec. 2. Non-conference play then wraps up with two road matchups, at California Baptist on Dec. 19 and at San Diego State Dec. 21.
“We are so excited that we have been granted an opportunity to compete this season. Obviously, so many variables are out of our control. We’ve only recently been given permission to pass the ball to a teammate,” Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh said.
“Opening our season against nationally ranked Stanford will provide us a great learning opportunity. We’re hoping that our five preseason games will provide the variety of play that will prepare us for our tough conference schedule,” Mimnaugh added. “Our conference schedule is truly unique and will provide us with a tourney-type game turnaround every single weekend. It will be interesting to see how our team rises to the challenge of not only competing against our opponent, but also navigating around the virus that has impacted all of our lives.”
Last season, Cal Poly opened the conference tournament with back-to-back wins, advancing to the semis at the Honda Center prior to the cancellation of the remainder of play. During the pair of victories, the Mustangs (11-18) saw Big West All-Freshman selection Abbey Ellis average 25 points, while all-conference first-team honoree Sierra Campisano added 22 per game en route to Cal Poly’s second trip to Anaheim in the past three years.
Ellis ranked 13th around the country in scoring among all freshmen nationally (averaging 15.6 points), while Campisano moved to No. 7 in school history for single-season scoring (via 17.per game).
Also back for the Mustangs after starting at last year’s tournament are senior guards Chantel Govan and Malia Holt. The duo combined for 1.9 steals, 4.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game out of the backcourt in 2019-20, as Cal Poly won four of its last five.
“The Big West Board of Directors did due diligence in examining all of the factors involved in a safe and responsible return to competition, with basketball being the pilot moving forward,” said Big West commissioner Dan Butterly. “The Big West Conference understands the need for consistent and multi-layered levels of testing protocols that put safety at the forefront for our member institutions. Cognizant of state and county restrictions, and the NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Basketball, we feel we have a plan in place that will adhere to those mandates.”
Games will not be re-scheduled should a team need to quarantine during the season. Tie-breaking procedures — planned to be announced in weeks to come — shall be utilized at the end of the regular season.
“We are also thankful for the guidance and feedback of Dr. Jim Borchers from the U.S. Council for Athletes’ Health during this planning process,” Butterly noted.
The 2020 calendar year will conclude starting Big West play at home against Hawai’i, Dec. 27-28.
On New Year’s Day as well as Jan. 2, Cal Poly will commence 2021 visiting UC San Diego for the first-ever conference matchup between the two. That will be followed by another clash with a Big West newcomer, as the Mustangs host CSU Bakersfield, also in its debut voyage in the conference, between Jan. 8-9.
Up next, Cal Poly travels to face UC Riverside for Jan. 15-16, before returning to the Central Coast to welcome UC Irvine to Mott on Jan. 22-23. Between Jan. 29-30, the Mustangs head to CSUN, prior to a bye week.
The road stretch continues at Cal State Fullerton from Feb. 12-13, before Long Beach State heads to San Luis Obispo for Feb. 19-20.
Cal Poly visits UC Davis, taking on the defending regular-season champion (12-4 BWC; 17-12 overall) between Feb. 26-27, before finishing the regular season at home against UC Santa Barbara on March 5-6. The Aggies return the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in senior forward Cierra Hall, while the Gauchos are led by 2020’s Conference Freshman of the Year, center Ila Lane.
The 2021 Big West Conference Tournament — featuring the top eight teams from the regular-season standings — will be contested from Wednesday, March 10 through Saturday, March 13, all at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
All tip times are to be announced. Further details to come, including broadcast information, will be provided on GoPoly.com once finalized.
Altogether, 10 returning letterwinners are joined by two activated redshirts along with seven newcomers to Cal Poly’s roster.
The Mustangs held opponents to 37.5-percent shooting in 2019-20, the conference’s No. 2 field-goal percentage defense, while surrendering just 60.2 points on average, the program’s top defensive allowance since 1976-77.
-Provided by Cal Poly