Turnovers and a failure to secure rebounds down the stretch proved costly for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team in a 64-62 loss to visiting Loyola Marymount in a hotly contested nonconference game Tuesday night in Mott Gym.
The Mustangs (3-3) led 56-54 with 2 minutes, 24 seconds to play when guard Kyla Howell’s turnover allowed the Lions (4-3) to tie the game and eventually take the lead for good.
Though the Mustangs were able to tie the game twice more, they found themselves down 62-60 with 26 seconds to play.
On a drive to the basket, guard Toni Newman was stripped of the ball and the Mustangs were forced to foul. LMU’s Amanda DeCoud put the game out of reach when she made two free throws to put her team up 64-60 with nine seconds left.
“We seemed kind of frazzled,” said senior forward Jessica Eggleston, who led Cal Poly with 15 points. “There were some turnovers and missed box-outs that let them back in the game and the momentum kind of swung. If we would have taken care of the ball and locked down on rebounding, we would have won the game.”
Eggleston shot 7 of 12 from the field and had seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 29 minutes.
Cal Poly senior point guard Sparkle Anderson, recently named Big West Conference Player of the Week, injured her knee with 2:22 left in the first half after she was fouled on a drive to the basket. She left the game and did not return. Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh said she did not know Anderson’s status after the game.
Cal Poly used defensive pressure as the catalyst for a 10-0 run to start the second half and captured its biggest lead, 41-36, with six minutes gone.
LMU answered with pressure of its own, forcing the Mustangs into a near five-minute scoring drought and four turnovers, seizing a 46-41 advantage with nine minutes left in the game.
Though the Mustangs held a four-point lead with 3:46 to play, Mimnaugh said the fatiguing effects of applying a full-court press throughout the game took a toll on her team’s decision-making and energy, especially when it came to rebounding.
“There were too many offensive rebounds,” Mimnaugh said. “If there’s one thing to improve upon in crunch time, it is to make contact every time. Many times we go straight to the ball instead of boxing out. That’s a habit we have to develop.”
Both teams finished nearly identical in rebounding, 39-38 in favor of Cal Poly.
For the game, LMU shot slightly better than Cal Poly, 43 percent compared to 40 percent, but the Mustangs shot the ball 11 more times.
LMU shot twice as many free throws in the game and held a seven-point advantage in that category.
Cal Poly went on a 9-4 run and cut its deficit to 32-29 to end the first half after Eggleston put back a missed free throw and Howell stole the ball with 10 seconds to play.
Cal Poly junior guard Toni Newman grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to go along with 10 points. Jennifer Hall led LMU with 18 points and four boards.
It was the Mustangs’ first home loss of the season. Earlier this season, they had come up with wins over Oregon State (68-65) and San Jose State (71-59) in Mott Gym.