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Second-Half Cal Poly Rally Comes Up Just Short in Road Loss at UC Irvine

Second-Half Cal Poly Rally Comes Up Just Short in Road Loss at UC Irvine

IRVINE, Calif. — The UC Irvine women's basketball team made nearly 55 percent of its first-half shots and then withstood a furious Cal Poly rally after the break on the way to an 84-75 Big West Conference win in Bren Events Center on Saturday afternoon.

A pair of free throws by redshirt freshman forward Mary Kate Evans cut an early Anteater lead to 14-8 with 12:55 to play until halftime, but that's when UCI caught fire, scoring the next 12 points over the ensuing five minutes.

In all, the Anteaters went 19 of 35 during the initial 20 minutes, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range en route to a 44-19 score (coming shortly after their largest lead, 28, at 42-14).

Soon after returning to the floor, however, the Mustangs began their massive comeback, using an overall 52-28 swing to ultimately cut the gap to 70-66 on a layup by senior guard Ariana Elegado with 4:13 remaining.

During the second-half turnaround, Cal Poly (9-6, 14-13) at one point had hit 18 of 29 shots.

But UCI (4-10, 7-22) recovered for a 73-66 advantage before senior guard Kristen Ale converted a layup to bring the Mustangs within five with 3:07 left. They got no closer, though, as the Anteaters struck back with a 6-0 run to hold on down the stretch.

Elegado finished with 24 points and five assists.

Freshman guard Dynn Leaupepe also had 16 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore center Hannah Gilbert added her second consecutive double-double, with 10 points and 10 boards.

Irene Chavez paced UCI with 24 points.

Cal Poly is alone in third place in terms of seeding for the Big West Tournament (a game back of second-place CSUN), which is scheduled for March 10-14 at both Titan Gym in Fullerton and the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The Mustangs will close out the regular season at home, hosting Senior Day and the Blue-Green Rivalry against UC Santa Barbara — which has now won two of its past three — in Mott Athletics Center at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The finale will also be Polio Plus Day (as donations will be collected to help eradicate polio worldwide) and Poly Play Day (for which fans 13-and-under wearing jerseys will receive free admission).

Photos © 2015 David E. Holmes