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UC Riverside Holds Off Cal Poly Rally to Stay Unbeaten in Big West, 93-83

UC Riverside Holds Off Cal Poly Rally to Stay Unbeaten in Big West, 93-83

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Twice in the second half, the Cal Poly women's basketball team pulled within one point of UC Riverside, but the Highlanders held on late for a 93-83 win at SRC Arena on Thursday night, staying unbeaten in Big West Conference play.

The Highlanders jumped out to a hot start, scoring the first six points in the opening minute of the ESPN3-televised game on the way to a 27-22 first-quarter lead.

UCR took its largest lead all evening at 45-27 with 3:34 to go until halftime, but the Mustangs went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:11 — as a 3-pointer from senior guard Beth Balbierz and back-to-back jumpers by junior forward Hannah Gilbert prompted a timeout.

The first-place Highlanders (13-7, 6-0), however, earned more than twice as many free-throw attempts by the break (going 14-of-17 compared to 7-of-8) en route to a 50-36 advantage.

Cal Poly rallied in the third quarter, as sophomore guard Dynn Leaupepe hit a jumper to close the deficit to just 59-55 at the 4:48 mark.

Then junior forward Amanda Lovely knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:26 left in the period, bringing the Mustangs within three (65-62).

Following a pair of UCR free throws, sophomore guard Lynn Leaupepe converted an And-1 layup to make it 67-64. After missing the free throw, her sister Dynn secured the rebound and proceeded to score inside to make it a one-point game: 67-66.

After UCR began the fourth up 69-66, another Dynn Leaupepe basket got it back to a one-point gap, at 71-70 with 9:01 to play.

But the Highlanders regrouped down the stretch, using a 10-2 run to go ahead 85-75 with 3:36 remaining.

UCR senior guard Brittany Crain, a reigning Nancy Lieberman Award candidate, led all scorers with 27 while surpassing the career 2,000-point plateau.

Dynn Leaupepe finished with a season-high 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting. Four Mustang teammates joined her in double-figures, as Balbierz and Gilbert (who went 6-for-7) each had 12, while Lovely and Lynn Leaupepe added 10 apiece.

Gilbert also grabbed 13 boards, posting her seventh double-double of the year, tops in the conference.

Cal Poly (10-9, 3-3) will now travel to Long Beach State to face the 49ers (15-5, 4-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday in Walter Pyramid.

Photo © 2016 David E. Holmes
• (For more photos of the team in action, click here.)