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UC Riverside Edges Cal Poly in Double-Overtime, 75-68

UC Riverside Edges Cal Poly in Double-Overtime, 75-68

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — UC Riverside outlasted Cal Poly in the Mustangs' first double-overtime game in six years Thursday night, as the Highlander women's basketball team prevailed 75-68 in Mott Athletics Center.

After taking a 13-9 lead into the second quarter, Cal Poly pulled ahead 17-9 on a pair of free throws by freshman guard Maddie Willett with 8:17 left to halftime. On a night featuring 12 ties and seven lead changes, however, UC Riverside responded with a 12-2 run late in the half, moving in front 27-25 by the break.

The Highlanders (13-12, 7-4 Big West Conference) kept their momentum surging into the second half, as a layup from Daphne Gnago put UCR in front 39-27 with 6:07 left in the period. Cal Poly (5-18, 2-10) would answer with the final six points of the quarter, though, on two baskets from Hana Vesela along with one from fellow junior forward Alicia Roufosse, to narrow the gap to 42-37 heading to the fourth.

With 6:48 to play in regulation, another Gnago lay-in extended Riverside's advantage to 52-44 — but the Mustangs rallied with an 8-0 run capped by a steal & drive by senior point guard Dye Stahley to tie the game at 52-all, prompting a Highlander timeout with 5:03 remaining.

After a Roufosse layup with 2:11 to go cut UCR's lead to 56-55, neither team scored until 10 seconds remained, when Vesela made the first end of two free-throw opportunities to tie it. Lauryn Pointer rebounded her miss, but Keilanei Cooper's last-second attempt at a 3 was short as time expired.

In the initial OT, senior center Devin Stanback and Vesela sank three more free throws to put Cal Poly ahead 61-58 at the 2:39 mark, but Andrianna Kasapi answered with a tying 3. Following a Stanback bucket, Cooper countered with a jumper of her own the next trip up the floor to deadlock the game yet again, 63-all. Neither squad could score in the last 55 seconds of the first extra period, sending it to double-OT.

It was the Mustangs' first double-OT game since Jan. 26, 2013, an 80-70 loss at CSUN, which came only 14 days after a triple-OT battle vs. Pacific at home (a 96-95 victory over the Tigers). 

Stanback provided Cal Poly a 65-63 lead 35 seconds into the final five minutes, but Marina Ewodo sank a tying jumper to finish a three-offensive-rebound possession, forcing the 12th tie of the evening. The sequence ignited a decisive 12-0 Riverside run, as two free throws from Cooper with 10 seconds to play stretched the lead to double-digits. A Willett 3 in the final seconds accounted for the final score.

Vesela corralled a career-high 12 rebounds to go with her team-high 18 points, and Stanback added 17 points. Cooper, playing the entire 50 minutes, paced UCR with a game-high 24 points on 8-for-17 shooting.

Stahley had six steals, upping her career total to 154, surpassing Russia Madden (1985-90) for No. 13 in school history.

The Mustangs return to Mott on Saturday afternoon hosting Cal State Fullerton, which heads up the coast following a 74-62 win at UCSB Thursday. Tipoff against the Titans (12-12, 4-7) on Feb. 23 is set for 2 p.m.

Photos © Owen Main