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San Francisco Edges Cal Poly Late at Monterey Bay, 65-62

San Francisco Edges Cal Poly Late at Monterey Bay, 65-62

SEASIDE, Calif. — Malia Holt sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining on Sunday, putting the Cal Poly women's basketball team up 62-61 against San Francisco, but Julia Nielacna answered right back with a jumper on the next possession coming out of a timeout, retaking the lead for the Dons, who held on for a 65-62 win in a game relocated to Cal State Monterey Bay due to air quality.

Played at the Kelp Bed on the campus of CSUMB, Sunday's game was moved south on Friday evening over hazardous Air Quality Index readings as firesmoke from Butte County filtered into the Bay Area.

San Francisco (2-1) jumped out to a quick start, taking a 7-0 lead on a Shannon Powell jumper just over two minutes in. The Mustangs rallied to tie it at 13-all on a free throw by Kirsty Brown, before the Dons used a 3-pointer from Kia Vaalavirta to close the quarter up 19-15.

Cal Poly moved in front 23-21 with 5:25 left to halftime when Alicia Roufosse sank a layup, prior to a pair of free throws by senior point guard Dye Stahley finishing a 10-0 run for a 25-21 lead. Two more free throws by senior forward Katie Nunnelley provided the Mustangs (1-4) their largest lead of the afternoon's first half: 30-24 with 2:11 left to intermission, but USF scored three straight baskets during the final two minutes to head to the break tied at 30.

Stahley gave Cal Poly its largest lead of the day at 42-34 when she hit a 3 with 2:46 left in the third quarter. USF narrowed the deficit to four, however, thanks to back-to-back free throws from Nielacna, en route to ending the period down 46-42. The Dons retook the lead, 49-48, when Moa Lundqvist made a 3-pointer 1:29 into the fourth quarter. 

Matters stayed close from there, with USF leading by four points at three moments that ensued — 54-50, 56-52 and 61-57 — but each time, the Mustangs didn't allow the gap to grow, including with 1:53 remaining when senior center Devin Stanback converted two free throws to make it 61-59.

After a Cal Poly timeout with 50 seconds to play, Nunnelley snared a rebound of a Maddie Willett 3, before passing out to Holt for her go-ahead shot behind the arc.

Nielacna's answer to Holt with 25 seconds left regained the lead for good for USF, though, 63-62. 

Lundqvist rebounded a miss by Stanback coming out of another timeout, and after a foul to stop the clock, Nielacna stepped to the line to add a pair of free throws for the final margin. Out of timeouts, Cal Poly had one last look at a tying 3 opportunity, but Willett's shot missed at the horn.

Nielacna led all scorers with 24 points, shooting 6-for-11 overall and 12-for-14 from the foul line.

Nunnelley, who last week established her career high in rebounding with 17, led Cal Poly with a career-best 21 points to go with 10 boards, notching her second double-double in seven days.

Roufosse, playing against her former team, had 17 points, while Stahley also added 12 and a game-high four steals in a 40-minute effort.

The Mustangs, who finished off a four-game road swing, will return to Mott Athletics Center to host the 12th annual ShareSLO Holiday Beach Classic. The schedule for the Thanksgiving weekend tournament, which features free admission for the entire community, is listed below:

Fri., Nov. 23
2 p.m. • Illinois at Cal Poly
4:30 p.m. • Pepperdine vs. Sacramento State

Sat., Nov. 24
2 p.m. • Sacramento State vs. Illinois
4:30 p.m. • Pepperdine at Cal Poly

Photos © David E. Holmes