ANAHEIM, Calif. – Junior Molly Schlemer lived up to her Big West Conference Player of the Year when she scored 20 second half points to lead the Cal Poly women's basketball team to a 62-43 win over UC Santa Barbara, Friday afternoon at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
With the win, Cal Poly advances to the Big West Conference Tournament Championship game and will face the regular-season champion, Pacific, at 1pm. The game will be televised on Fox Prime Ticket.
Cal Poly improves to 20-10 overall, the team's second most wins at the Division I level, while UCSB concludes the season, 16-16. For the Mustangs it was the team's fifth-straight win over Gauchos.
Schlemer scored a game-high 26 points when she made 10 of 23 shots from the floor and corralled nine rebounds while sinking six of seven from the line. Junior Jonae Ervin and sophomore Ariana Elegado, each scored eight points with senior Caroline Reeves adding six points. Senior Kayla Griffin tied Schlemer with a team-high nine rebounds.
Nicole Nesbit and Angelei Aguirre led UCSB with 11 and 10 points respectively. Kristen Tilleman had 10 rebounds to lead all players.
Cal Poly shot 43.8 percent from the field and made four of 12 shots from long range while UCSB shot 34.7 percent from the floor and made two of four from beyond the arc.
The Mustangs went to the line 19 times and made 16 while UCSB made seven of eight. The Gauchos held a two rebound advantage, 32-30, but the Mustangs turned the ball over six fewer times (17-11).
Cal Poly has played in two championship games while Pacific has played in four with neither team winning. Cal Poly advanced to the championship game in 2010-11 when the team fell to UC Davis and 2008-09 when the lost to UCSB.
The Mustangs opened the game missing their first eight shots from the floor, but rebounded to make nine of the next 16 shots, good for 38 percent from the floor in the first half.
Cal Poly trailed by as many as six, 8-2, with 12:16 on the clock when the Mustangs went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-9 lead on a three by Griffin with 10:24 on the clock. The Mustangs took the lead for good at 7:48 when Ervin hit a jumper for a 16-15 lead.
The Mustangs built the lead to five (22-17) on a jumper by Nikol Allison with 1:11 left and settled for a 22-19 lead at the break.
Cal Poly opened the second half on a 13-2 run to build a 14 point lead on a pair of free throws by Schlemer with 12:19 left in the game and made it a 16 point game on a Allison jumper at 9:04.
The Mustangs kept the pressure on, never letting UCSB within 11 the rest of the game. Cal Poly held its largest lead of the game as the team made its free throws down the stretch and a 62-43 win.