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Saint Mary's Rallies for 87-83 Overtime Win Over Visiting Cal Poly

Saint Mary's Rallies for 87-83 Overtime Win Over Visiting Cal Poly

MORAGA, Calif. — Despite distributing a season-best 23 assists and getting a career-high 25-point night from senior guard Lisa Marie Sanchez, the Cal Poly women's basketball team barely saw its four-game winning streak snapped in overtime Thursday, as Saint Mary's rallied for an 87-83 victory at McKeon Pavilion.

Cal Poly scored the first seven points of the game, setting the tone for a 25-20 first quarter (during which Sanchez made all three of her 3-point attempts). To start the second quarter, the Mustangs kept rolling, going on another 7-0 run to take a 32-20 lead.

A 3-pointer by senior guard Beth Balbierz gave Cal Poly a 35-22 advantage with 7:25 to play until the break, as the shot also brought the Mustangs to 7-of-9 from long range.

Cal Poly (6-4) continued to surge, taking its largest lead before halftime at 39-22 by the 5:52 mark on a jumper from sophomore forward Mary Kate Evans.

The Mustangs left the floor up 46-33, with Sanchez 4-for-4 (all from deep) at the time, while Balbierz was 4-for-6 en route to 11 points.

All but three of Cal Poly's 19 first-half baskets were assisted.

A lay-in from junior forward Hannah Gilbert with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter provided the Mustangs a 56-46 lead, but Saint Mary's (9-2) — which already owns a pair of wins over Pac-12 opponents in No. 18 Cal and Washington State — proceeded to catch fire, using a pivotal 11-0 run to take a one-point lead.

On Cal Poly's last possession of the third, however, junior forward Amanda Lovely knocked down a 3 to regain the upper hand. But the Gaels' Lauren Nicholson hit a 15-footer at the buzzer, sending matters to the fourth tied up at 59-all.

The teams traded buckets to start the last quarter, until a Sanchez jumper 3:42 in, followed by a Sanchez steal and pass ahead to sophomore wing Lynn Leaupepe for a layup established a 69-65 Cal Poly lead.

Two free throws by Nicholson — who finished with 28 points — tied the game at 72 with two minutes left in regulation. Then SMC added three more free throws over the next minute-and-a-half, before Cal Poly called a timeout down three with 28.8 seconds to go.

With 19.3 seconds left, Sanchez drilled her fifth 3 of the evening from the left side of the arc to tie the game 75-75. The Gaels' shot at a potential game-winner by Devon Brookshire was long, sending it to OT.

With both teams in the bonus in the extra period, free-throw shooting was at a premium, and SMC cashed in on six straight opportunities for an 81-77 lead with 2:16 on the clock.

Yet another bomb from Sanchez brought the Mustangs within 83-82 with 58 seconds remaining. Then after Cal Poly regained possession, Leaupepe drove the lane for a shot with some contact, but Megan McKay rebounded the miss, ultimately sending Nicholson to the line with 4.6 seconds for two more free throws — each of which she sank.

After being fouled at midcourt with 3.2 seconds left to deny a chance at a potentially-tying 3, Sanchez made her first free throw to cut the deficit to 85-83.

Then after an attempt at an intentional miss, the Mustangs were whistled for a lane violation. Fouled on the inbound with 2.1 seconds, Carly Turner made two last free throws for the crucial two-possession margin (and final score).

The Gaels ended the game 28-for-33 from the charity stripe.

Sanchez, who also had a career-best nine assists, went 6-for-7 from 3-point territory, moving her total over the past two seasons to a combined 39-for-69 (a .565 rate). She's also now 25-for-27 as a free-throw shooter this year (a .926 clip).

Balbierz finished with 13 points, while Lovely and sophomore Dynn Leaupepe added 12 apiece.

The Mustangs' three-game road trip will continue at CSU Bakersfield at 1 p.m. Saturday inside the Icardo Center, before heading to No. 7 Oregon State for a 3 p.m. tip Monday in Gill Coliseum.