For the second time this season, Cal Poly defeated Long Beach in a heart-breaking fashion.
The Beach had a one-point lead with 0.6 seconds left on the clock, but that was just enough time for sophomore Mustang Maddie Willett to release a left-handed layup which circled the rim, then finally fell in, dashing Long Beach’s tournament run.
After a tight game in the first round of the Big West tournament, which featured 13 lead changes and eight ties, the No. 3 seeded Long Beach fell short to No. 6 seeded Cal Poly, 61-60 Wednesday night.
With both teams shooting 35% from the field, rebounds ran the pace of the game. Long Beach couldn’t compete, and got out-rebounded 42-25.
“It never comes down to the end, I thought we had chances to build a lead and have more of a cushion so we’re not in that situation, but we just didn’t compete on the boards,” Head Coach Jeff Cammon said in a post-game interview. “I thought really, the only way [the Mustangs] were able to score was when they had second-chance opportunities.”
Sophomore Mustang Sierra Campisano led her team to victory with a double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds. The other half of their dynamic duo, Abbey Ellis, contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds to the Mustang’s victory.
The Beach had three players in double digits. Junior forward Naomi Hunt was the leading scorer with 14 points, junior guard Justina King was not far behind with 13 points and junior forward Imani Lacy contributed 11 points off the bench.
Despite the loss, the Beach’s bench outscored Cal Poly’s bench, 20-2.
Long Beach had a slow start shooting 31% from the field and falling 15-9 at the end of the first quarter. After the slow start, however, Long Beach picked up the pace and outscored the Mustangs,14-11 in the second quarter.
The game stayed close all night, with no team leading by more than eight points.
Long Beach got a glimmer of hope when Campisano of Cal Poly fouled out the game with three minutes remaining, but the Mustangs weren’t phased by this.
The Mustangs outscored the Beach at the free throw line, which ultimately helped contribute to their victory. The Mustangs were 19-for-23, while the Beach was 15-for-20 from the line.
The Beach finished off their season with a 12-9 overall record for the 2020-21 season.
“This was the best season we had in terms of our record, we started 10-0 which I don’t think we’ve ever done that,” King said. “Like coach said, I think we’re moving in the right direction.”