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Cal Poly Wins Another Dramatic Overtime Classic at Long Beach State

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Ariana Elegado sank a game-winning runner in the lane with less than four seconds to play, finishing a dramatic 58-57 win by the Cal Poly women's basketball team over Long Beach State on Saturday night, the second year in a row in which the Mustangs claimed an overtime thriller within Walter Pyramid.

After Elegado's teardrop shot fell with 3.7 seconds remaining, Cal Poly prevented the 49ers from getting off a shot, moving to 7-4 in Big West Conference play, which is now tied with Long Beach State.

It was a somewhat similar outcome to a year ago, when Cal Poly won 107-102 in OT in the same building.

The game opened in close fashion, with four lead changes and four ties each in the initial 12 minutes, before Long Beach State took its largest lead at 26-19 with 4:36 left before halftime (at which point the 49ers would lead 34-28).

Then after falling behind 37-30, the Mustangs went on a 12-0 run requiring less than three minutes to go up 42-37.

Long Beach State (20-5 overall) didn't go down by any more than five, though, finally retaking the lead at 51-48 on an Alex Sanchez 3-pointer with 3:36 remaining. Mustang junior guard Beth Balbierz responded with a 3 of her own to tie it again with 1:42 to go in regulation, a 51-all score that would hold up to the final horn.

In the extra period, freshman wing Dynn Leaupepe struck first, putting Cal Poly ahead 53-51 on a jumper seven seconds after the tip. Four Long Beach State free throws made it 55-53, before another Balbierz bucket tied it at 55 with 1:33 showing.

Balbierz then gave Cal Poly a 56-55 lead with a free throw coming with 29 seconds left, before an Anna Kim jumper gave Long Beach State a 57-56 advantage with 12.2 seconds remaining, thus setting up the final sequence.

Elegado penetrated in from the top of the arc, getting off her shot with four seconds to go before it dropped in. After the ensuing Long Beach State inbound, the Mustangs stopped the ball at halfcourt, preventing a good look and giving themselves reason to celebrate in front of the crowd of 924.

Sophomore center Hannah Gilbert finished 8-of-11 from the floor on the way to 16 points and six rebounds for Cal Poly (12-11 overall), and Leaupepe finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Also, coming off the bench, sophomore forward Rachel Koehler grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in 20 minutes, along with scoring four points.

The trio of underclassmen helped the team double-up the 49ers in the paint on the evening, 36-18.

Defensively, the Mustangs held the 49ers to 5-of-32 shooting from the floor after the first half.

Cal Poly also won on the boards, 51-36 altogether.

The Mustangs will return to Mott Athletics Center to host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. Thursday and then UC Riverside at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Photos © 2015 David E. Holmes