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Hawai'i Pulls Away for 71-54 Win at Cal Poly

Hawai'i Pulls Away for 71-54 Win at Cal Poly

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Making her first collegiate start, Cal Poly freshman guard Alli Hallberg scored a season-high 19 points Thursday night, but the Hawai'i women's basketball team used a 9-0 second-quarter run to overcome a brief first-half deficit, pulling away en route to picking up a 71-54 Big West Conference road win inside Mott Athletics Center.

Mustang junior forward Hana Vesela had the hot hand early on, making three of her first four shots during the opening quarter, before Hallberg closed the period with a free throw for the fifth lead change of the first, sending Cal Poly to the second up 15-14.

Cal Poly then moved in front 17-14 on a jumper by senior forward Katie Nunnelley 2:31 into the second quarter, but the Rainbow Wahine answered with a 7-0 run over the ensuing minute-and-a-half, taking a 21-17 advantage with a Courtney Middap 3-pointer.

Senior center Devin Stanback scored inside to provide Cal Poly one last lead — 22-21 with 4:36 to play before the break — and then added another basket at the 3:05 mark to bring the Mustangs within 26-25. Hawai'i then reeled off the pivotal 9-0 run, surging ahead 35-25 via a Lauren Rewers layup 38 seconds before intermission.

Then six seconds before the first-half horn, senior forward Leah Salanoa added a 3-pointer to send the Wahine (6-11, 2-2) to the locker room ahead 38-27.
 
Cal Poly (4-12, 1-4) would respond with a 7-0 spurt of its own midway through the third quarter, cutting a 13-point deficit to 51-45 thanks to back-to-back Stanback baskets followed by a Hallberg 3. Hawai'i, however, didn't allow a Mustang point during the final five minutes of the third, stretching the lead to 58-45 by the close of the period.

To open the fourth, UH continued to steadily extend the gap, as a 3 from senior point guard Tia Kanoa, the Big West Player of the Week on Jan. 14, made it 64-45 with 7:53 remaining.

Hallberg, a grad of Wenatchee High School in Washington, finished the night 5-for-9 overall, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, and went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. Hallberg moved into the starting lineup as the Mustangs were shorthanded playing without senior point guard Dye Stahley, out with an injury.

Vesela added 16 points on a season-best 7-for-11 performance, while Stanback also shot an efficient 5-for-7 on the way to 11 points. Stanback established a career-high with four blocks, three back of the single-game school record set in 1980. Middap finished with 15 points to pace the Wahine.

Cal Poly will head out on the road next, visiting UC Irvine on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at Bren Events Center.

Photos © Owen Main