Mar 16, 2013 9:47 PM by Andrew Masuda

Mustangs punch ticket to NCAA Tournament, Schlemer named MVP

The Cal Poly women's basketball team defeated Pacific 63-49 to earn the programs first ever trip to the NCAA tournament on Saturday in Anaheim. Junior Molly Schlemer garnered tournament MVP honors with sophomore Ariana Elegado earned 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.

"I'm a little bit overwhelmed by it," said Faith Mimnaugh, who's in her 16th season as head coach of the Mustangs. "Sometimes you think it's never going to happen and that your hard work isn't going to pay off. But it always does. I always talk to the team about that,"she added.

Schlemer, a Righetti High graduate, earned her MVP honors when she corralled a season-high 16 rebounds and added seven points.

"It's really emotional obviously. But just watching coach Faith never give up hope in us and always working hard to make us the best we can be, it's just amazing to finally pay her back this way," said Schlemer, already named the Big West Conference's Player of the Year.

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 made nine of 10 attempts from the free throw line.

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. Cal Poly lost senior star Kayla Griffin in the second half when she went down while going for a rebound with what appears to be a torn ACL and MCL injury.

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.

Cal Poly tied a program Division record by picking up its 21st win of the season. The 21-10 Mustangs will find out if they will be a 16 seed or better on Monday afternoon.

"We're expecting to go play Baylor, Connecticut or Stanford or Cal or Notre Dame, one of the top seeds. We're anticipating the worst possible seed," said Mimnaugh.



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