The Cal Poly women's basketball team defeated Pacific, 63-49, to earn the programs first ever trip to the NCAA tournament on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Junior Molly Schlemer garnered tournament MVP honors with sophomore Ariana Elegado earning all-tournament.
Cal Poly will wait until Monday at 4 pm to find out where they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show will be televised on ESPN.
Cal Poly becomes the first Big West Conference No. 2 seed to win the conference tournament since 1996 when Hawai'i defeated Pacific.
The native of Santa Maria earned her MVP honors when she corralled a season-high 16 rebounds and added seven points. Elegado led all-scorers with 22 points when she connected on five of 11 shots from the floor and three of seven from beyond the arc.
She was near perfect at the line, making nine of 10 attempts.
Senior Nikol Allison came off the bench and sparked the team for the second-straight game when she scored 10 points. Fellow senior Caroline Reeves also added 10 points, making four of seven shots from the floor.
The Mustangs were a dominate force on the boards with a 46-28 advantage while making 41 percent of their field goals. Cal Poly held Pacific to 33 percent from the floor for the game and 27 percent in the first half.
The Pacific defense did force 19 Mustang turnovers while committing 13 of their own.
Cal Poly made three of 10 from long range with Pacific struggling, making four of 17 attempts. The Mustangs went to the line 30 times, making 24 while Pacific attempted 11 free throws, making five.
The game opened with Schlemer making a pair of free throws and a layup before Pacific made its first basket, a three pointer by Kendall Rodriguez, at 15:27. On Pacific's next possession, Erica McKenzie hit another three for a 6-4 lead at 15:02. That would be the only lead of the game for the Tigers as the Mustangs, after three ties, took the lead for good on a jumper by Reeves at 10:59.
Cal Poly took its first double figure lead, 27-17, on a three by Elegado at 4:18 and expanded the lead to 15 points (18-33) on a pair of free throws by junior Jonae Ervin. The Mustangs held a 33-21 lead at the break.
Pacific opened the second half on a 8-0 run that cut the Cal Poly lead to four (29-33) in the first four minutes of play when senior Kayla Griffin went down with a knee injury and would not return to the court. Cal Poly finally got on the board in the second half when Reeves made a pair of free throws at 15:42. Allison, subbing for Griffin, responded with pair of buckets to spark the team and gain an eight point advantage (39-31) with 13:24 on the clock.
Sophomore Taryn Garza entered the game when Schlemer picked up her third foul of the game (12:08) and responded by shutting down the Pacific inside game. The Mustangs built the lead to nine on a Reeves jumper with 6:26 left in the game and in the closing two minutes of play, Schlemer gave the Mustangs a 10 point lead on a jumper with 1:46 on the clock. Elegado and Kristen Ale made their free throws down the stretch to seal the win and the 14 point victory.