SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The top seeded Mustangs opened the Big West Conference Women's Basketball Tournament with a 71-53 win over the Cal State Fullerton Titans, Tuesday at Mott Gym. Big West player of the year, Kristina Santiago, led all scorers with 31 points while Ariana Elegado came off the bench to add 14 points.
With the win the Mustangs advance to the semifinal round of the tournament at the Honda Center and will face the No. 7 seed Long Beach State at 12 pm on Friday. Long Beach State upset the No. 2 seed Cal State Northridge, 57-52.
Cal Poly improves to 17-13 overall while Cal State Fullerton concludes the season 11-19.
Santiago's points came when she hit 13 of 16 shots from the floor and made five of six from the line. The senior added nine rebounds, four steals and a block.
Elegado made six of eight from the floor including her one three-point attempt while adding four assists. Senior Christine Martin, also off the bench, scored 12 points when she hit four of eight from the floor including three from beyond the arc.
Junior Kayla Griffin, while not scoring, contributed with seven rebounds and four assists.
Megan Richardson led the Titans with 13 points with Alicya Crisp adding nine points.
Cal Poly as a team shot 52 percent from the floor and made four of nine from long range. CSF shot 33 percent for the game and made five of 21 from beyond the arc.
The Mustangs outrebounded CSF, 39-29, but turned the ball over four more times (19-15).
Cal Poly opened the game and quickly took control, holding a 10 point lead (18-8) 6:58 into the game. Cal Poly held a 38-23 advantage on a jumper by Elegado at 4:38.
The two teams hit a dry spell with neither team scoring until Martin hit a three at the buzzer and a 41-23 lead at the break. Santiago accounted for 20 of the Mustangs first half points.
In the second half the Mustangs built up a 24 point lead (55-31) at 11:27 on a layup by Nwamaka Ofodu.
But it was the Titans turn to take control and scored the next 14 points, cutting to lead to 10 points with 6:05 left in the game.
The Titans trailed by 10 (61-51) with 2:47 left when Santiago took over and scored six straight points, putting the game out of reach. Cal Poly expanded its lead to 20 in the closing minutes and settled for the 18 point win.