WEEKLY NOTES (PDF)
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – It’s a game that all Mustang players, coaches and fans get excited about every year, the Blue-Green rivalry game with UC Santa Barbara. That rivalry will be renewed Thursday when UCSB comes to the Mott Athletic Center.
Tip time between the Mustangs (5-13, 2-8 BW) and Gauchos (14-5, 7-2 BW) is set for 6 p.m. pm PT.
Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Links to that as well as live stats to follow can be found on the schedule page.
Thursday’s game against UCSB is Cal Poly’s ‘Play for Kay Game’ with all fans encouraged to wear pink in honor of legendary women’s basketball coach Kay Yow and the fight against all forms of cancer.
The Mustangs will look to snap a four-game losing streak when they face UCSB and Hawai’i for the second time this season. They will avenge close losses to the Gauchos and Rainbow Wahine the first time around. Cal Poly lost on the road to UCSB Jan. 7 65-59. They also fell narrowly at home to Hawai’i Dec. 31, 50-47.
The Mustangs are coming off a pair of road games last week that they just dropped. After erasing a 12-point deficit in the first quarter, they fell to Long Beach State, 57-54. They then lost a close one Saturday to Cal State Fullerton, 69-61.
Graduation Oumou Touré has played her best basketball of the season recently. Against Long Beach State, she scored a team-high 18 points before following it up with a 19-point performance against the Titans on Saturday. She has scored 18 or more points in three of her last four games and during that stretch is getting to the free throw line at a clip of nearly eight attempts per game. In conference play, Toure leads the Mustangs with 10.3 points per game.
Another bright spot for Cal Poly lately has been the sophomore guard Sydney Bourland, who recorded Cal Poly’s first double-double of the season Saturday against Cal State Fullerton with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. In conference play this year, she is leading the Mustangs in rebounding with 6.6 per game and has had 6+ rebounds in five of the last six games.
There has already been much improvement from the Mustangs this year under first-year coach Shanele Stires. During non-conference play, Cal Poly picked up three wins, matching its win total from all of last season. Since then, they have racked up two more wins during conference play to surpass their overall win total from last season and have already matched the two conference wins they had last year. They are doing so despite being hit by several injuries to key players this year.
It has been defense that has been the calling card for the Mustangs this season. In all five of Cal Poly’s wins so far, the Mustangs have held opponents to 53 points or fewer.
The second guard Annika Shah continues to lead the team with 10.4 points per game, while leading the team with 2.7 assists per game. Shah also has two blocks for the season and, at 5’3, is the second-shortest player in Division I to record a block this year. Only Oklahoma’s Nevaeh Tot, who is 5’2, is shorter with a block.
After Saturday’s game against the Rainbow Wahine, the Mustangs will host UC Irvine, who currently leads the Big West at 8-1, on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.
UCSB Scouting: Winners of three straight and six of their last seven, the Gauchos sit in third place in the Big West standings. They are the Big West’s best scoring team at 68.4 points per game. They are also the conference’s top rebounding team at 37.8 per game and the leader in assists at 15 per game. Individually, UCSB has two players ranked in the top 10 in scoring in the Big West, guard Alexis Tucker (13.0 ppg) and forward Ila Lane (12.8 ppg). Lane also leads the Big West in rebounding at 8.9 per game and field goal percentage, shooting 55.2 percent.
Scouting Hawai’i: Last year’s Big West champions have won two of their last three games and are currently fifth in the Big West standings. In the first meeting with the Rainbow Wahine earlier this season in San Luis Obispo, which Hawai’i won 50-47, the Mustangs held Hawai’i to 28.6 percent shooting from the field, their lowest ever. opponent throughout the season. . Big West Rookie of the Year Lily Wahinekapu leads them in scoring with 10.9 ppg while fellow guard Daejah Phillips averages 10.8 ppg. As a team, Hawai’i is third in the conference in fewest points allowed, giving up 60.6 points per game.
Shah leads the score: The second guard Annika Shah leads the Mustangs in scoring this season with 10.4 points per game. That’s an improvement of more than six points over her average as a freshman last season, the biggest jump of anyone on the team. She has scored in double figures seven times, including over 20 twice and has led the team in scoring in seven of 16 games so far.
Returning Mustangs: Despite losing two starters from last year, Cal Poly brings back a lot from last year’s team. Two of the team’s top three scorers are back this year.
High guard Maddie Willett returns after being second on the team in scoring last year at 8.9 ppg while leading the team in three-pointers and three-point percentage.
The top striker Julia Not cheap is also back after averaging 8.3 ppg last season while playing in 24 of 25 games and starting 11.
In addition to those two, there are five returning players this season who played in at least 22 games last year.
New Stangs: Cal Poly added seven freshmen to this year’s team, four freshmen and three Division I transfers. All three transfers consist of graduate Nikola Kovacikovagraduate student Oumou Touréand junior Taylor Wu.
Kovacikova comes to Cal Poly after previously playing at Penn and Georgetown. Last season at Penn, she played in 19 games with eight starts. Off the court, she won Penn’s Norman J. Goldring Award and the George H. Frazier Award, which is given to a female student-athlete with the highest grade point average. She spent her first two collegiate seasons at Georgetown. As a sophomore in 2019-2020, she appeared in 27 games with 12 starts and was the Hoyas’ third-leading scorer, averaging 7.9 ppg.
Toure comes to Cal Poly after spending the last three years at Butler. She played her first season before missing the next two seasons due to injury and the COVID pandemic. As a freshman in 2019-2020, she was named to the Big East All-Young Team. That season, she appeared in 27 games, making 20 starts and ranked second on the team with 9.1 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field to go along with 6.1 rebounds per game. She also led the Big East and ranked 45th in the NCAA in steals per game at 2.33.
Wu spent the last three seasons at California Baptist University, where he played in 70 career games. She made her mark as a freshman in 2019-2020, averaging 6.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.7 apg in 18.4 minutes per game.
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