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UC Davis Holds Off Cal Poly to Remain in First Place in Big West, 80-76

UC Davis Holds Off Cal Poly to Remain in First Place in Big West, 80-76

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Cal Poly women's basketball team rallied to pull within three points of first-place UC Davis on Saturday in Mott Athletics Center, but the defending Big West regular-season champion Aggies held on late, staying atop the conference standings, 80-76.

The Aggies (15-3, 5-0) — ranked No. 8 in the latest College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 poll — shot 28-for-56 overall, including 13-for-27 from 3-point range, in remaining unbeaten in Big West play.

Dynn Leaupepe led the Mustangs with 30 points, her fourth 30-point performance over the past eight games, and also matched her career high with six steals.

Leaupepe, a senior guard from Camarillo, shot 11-for-25 from the floor. The NCAA's 13th-leading career active free-throw shooter (.824), she made all seven of her free-throw attempts on the afternoon.

Her last two free throws of the day brought Cal Poly within 79-76 with 29.5 seconds left. Then following a timeout, the Mustangs forced a turnover with 20.4 seconds to play and called timeout again.

Leaupepe's potentially tying 3 bounced off the iron, however, and UC Davis secured the crucial rebound with 7.6 seconds remaining. Aggie senior Pele Gianotti proceeded to sink an ensuing free throw for the final margin, in effect making it a two-possession game with 3.1 seconds left.

Dynn's twin sister, Lynn Leaupepe (also a preseason All-Big West pick, in the midst of a return from an injury sustained in non-conference play), came off the bench to add 14 points and 10 rebounds, earning her 16th career double-double.

UCD — which a year ago advanced to the third round of the WNIT — established a 13-6 lead 3:28 in, but the Mustangs came back to take a 17-16 lead as senior forward Mary Kate Evans connected from behind the arc 55 seconds before the start of the second quarter.

The Aggies quickly regained the lead, though, and pulled ahead by as many as 12 (33-21) on a 3 via Dani Nafekh 5:42 before the break. The Mustangs (9-8, 3-2) cut the gap to 39-35 at halftime, but Davis pulled away with a 27-14 third quarter, taking a 66-49 upper hand into the final period.

UCD took its largest lead of the entire game, 71-51, on a layup by junior forward Morgan Bertsch with 6:51 to play. Cal Poly went on a 17-2 run over the next 3:12, though, narrowing the lead to 73-68 on another Evans 3, setting up the final sequence down the stretch.

Evans finished a season-best 3-for-4 from 3-point range en route to nine points and five rebounds. Four Aggies scored in double-figures, led by Rachel Nagel with 20 points, followed by Bertsch with 16. 

Cal Poly will visit Long Beach State at 7 p.m. Thursday, with ESPN3 televising from Walter Pyramid, before heading to Cal State Fullerton for a 6 p.m. tipoff on Saturday, Jan. 27.