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Hawai'i Edges Cal Poly for 64-58 Big West Conference Win

Hawai'i Edges Cal Poly for 64-58 Big West Conference Win

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Dynn Leaupepe scored a career-high 31 points for the Cal Poly women's basketball team Thursday night, but Hawai'i held on late to win a Big West Conference game featuring 10 lead changes at Mott Athletics Center, 64-58.

Both teams shot an identical 4-for-15 in the first quarter, which the Rainbow Wahine ended ahead 11-9. Hawai'i slowly added to its lead, going up 24-17 on a 3-point play by Leah Salanoa 5:57 before halftime. Cal Poly went on a 12-3 run over the next 3:42, though, to take a 29-27 advantage.

Leaupepe, a sophomore guard, had six points during the stretch, with junior forward Amanda Lovely and sophomore guard Gabby Grupalo each adding a 3-pointer, as well. Leaupepe then sank another jumper with nine seconds left in the half, giving her 12 points in the second quarter and providing the Mustangs a 31-29 lead at the break.

A layup from senior guard Beth Balbierz made the Cal Poly lead 37-33 nearly four minutes into the third quarter, but Hawai'i got a 3 from Sarah Toeaina on its next trip up the floor and never trailed by more than three the rest of the way.

After beginning the fourth with a 46-45 lead, the Wahine relinquished the lead one last time (when Leaupepe hit another jumper for the quarter's first points at the 8:41 mark).

Following a two-and-a-half minute scoreless stretch, Hawai'i retook the lead on an Olivia Crawford jump shot, before she added a 3 just 32 seconds later after a defensive rebound, for a 51-47 margin with 5:38 to play.

The Mustangs (10-11, 3-5) cut the deficit to 56-53 with 2:29 remaining on a Leaupepe layup, triggering a Hawai'i timeout, but after Destiny King converted back-to-back baskets to make it a seven-point gap, Cal Poly was forced to foul down the stretch to stop the clock.

Hawai'i (13-9, 6-3) held on to avenge a 70-65 loss in San Luis Obispo from 2014-15 while improving in the all-time series, now 8-3 in Cal Poly's favor. The close battle included a 16-13 Mustang advantage in points off turnovers and a 33-28 bench performance.

Leaupepe — who averaged 22.0 points and 6.0 rebounds off the bench a week ago — went 13-for-29 and grabbed six more boards in her 30 minutes.

Balbierz finished with 10 points, her 16th double-figures performance this season and the 26th of her career.

Cal Poly will next host UC Irvine at 4 p.m. Saturday. The afternoon is also part of the nationwide Play 4 Kay Initiative, as all fans wearing pink get in for free, and donations will be collected for the Kay Yow Foundation, going directly to breast cancer research.

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