Cal Poly Women's Basketball Senior Spotlight: Emily Anderson

Cal Poly Women's Basketball Senior Spotlight: Emily Anderson

As the daughter of a pair of Cal Poly alumni, Emily Anderson grew up visiting the Central Coast with her parents. During those trips from Fresno, the Clovis West High School basketball star kept finding more and more reasons to follow in their footsteps and head off to college in San Luis Obispo.

"We came here a lot on vacation," Anderson recalled. "And I really just fell in love with the area — and then I started to look into the basketball part of it, and the family aspect of the team here was just really amazing. That's what really drew me here."

Now years later, as a senior for the Mustangs, Anderson has become one of the top 3-point shooting threats in the Big West.

Currently shooting .424 from beyond the arc (25-for-59 for the season), she ranks No. 3 in the conference in 3-point percentage while averaging 6.3 points — behind only UC Davis' Nina Bessolo (.456) and CSUN's Hayley Tanabe (.455).

"I would describe her as instant offense," Cal Poly head coach Faith Mimnaugh says. "Obviously she has great 3-point range, and she has a mindset to help the team in that way, so her teammates look for her to provide that scoring spark for us."

On Dec. 16 at North Dakota State, Anderson's 3-for-5 performance from deep helped lead the Mustangs to a 73-69 victory over the Bison. The win in Fargo marked one of six occasions over the past two seasons Anderson has buried at least a trio of 3-pointers in the same game.

"We don't have a 'host of 3-point shooters,'" Mimnaugh said, "but she is definitely one of the top targets. And as much as we can, we try to put the ball in her hands for that purpose."

Anderson also went a career-high 4-for-7 from 3-point territory on Jan. 4 at UC Riverside, helping to lead the Mustangs to their biggest comeback in four years, erasing a 13-point third-quarter deficit to open Big West play with an 87-82 overtime win.

"I'd say shooting was a specialty of mine in high school as well," Anderson remembers, "and that's when I learned to shoot faster and create different shots, whether you have to be deeper or with a shot-fake or off the dribble."

Anderson, who made 169 3s in high school, credited her youth coaches for instilling her shooting mechanics early on, as well as her dad: "We literally went and shot all the time, and I just kept getting reps and reps and different workouts, and it all really helped."

Also recruited by Fresno State, Sacramento State and Pacific, among others, Anderson scored 17.1 points per game while leading the Golden Eagles to the Central Section Division I title as a senior.

"The first thing that caught my eye was her ability to shoot," Mimnaugh commented. "The speed of the game (in college) she was (already) used to because her high school team was very up-tempo; we knew that she could press and that she was used to sharing the basketball."

Following 2013-14, Anderson was selected as the Fresno Bee's co-Area Player of the Year, sharing the award with current UNLV senior Brooke Johnson from Hanford.

Anderson comes from an athletic family, as her dad Nick played football for the Mustangs in the late '80s, while her younger sister Megan is also now a Division I player, currently in her first season at San José State.

"It's brought us a lot closer, and we can relate to each other," Emily said of having a sibling also being an NCAA student-athlete. Megan also wears No. 30 for the Spartans, shooting .467 from 3 as a freshman. "We talk a lot more than we did when she was in high school, and it's helped bring our relationship to a stronger level."

After beginning her time at Cal Poly studying Nutrition, Anderson changed her major to Kinesiology, which she says she continually applies to routine weight-training and conditioning in basketball.

Anderson, who plans to attend nursing school after graduation, says she'll look back on her camaraderie with her Mustang teammates as another family: "The friendships that I've made, it's just been amazing."

In addition to playing a career-most 18.3 minutes so far in 2017-18, Anderson has also started five times and is averaging 2.3 rebounds, usually at the small forward spot.

"Her shooting skills were always intact, but to be able to play either perimeter players or defend post players was another part of her evolution on the court," Mimnaugh said, "and certainly, when she has opportunities to attack, even off the dribble, she's shown herself to be capable of being more than just a 3-point shooter."

"As she's grown as a player, I think her confidence has also grown, and you can see the fight in her," Mimnaugh added. "She's such a sweetheart, but there's a competitor lying under that skin."

By Donovan Aird
Photos © Matt Aguirre

Mustang seniors will be featured on throughout the season. Cal Poly will soon host a three-game homestand in Mott Athletics Center, starting Saturday at 2 p.m. against CSUN; then Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. vs. UC Irvine and finishing Saturday, Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. against UC Davis.