Abbey Ellis takes over for Cal Poly, pours in 37 points

Having fallen a point shy of cracking the 30-point mark in just her fourth college game, Cal Poly freshman Abbey Ellis blew past the milestone in Friday’s 75-70 win over UC Riverside, pouring in a mammoth 37 points to lead the Mustangs to victory.

Having put up just 7 points in each of her last two outings, the career-high scoring effort quickly and emphatically snapped Ellis out of an uncharacteristic slump, having scored in double figures for each of the preceding 7 games.

Ellis started the game fairly well, looking primed for a return to scoring form with six first-quarter points even as Cal Poly trailed 20-15 after a quarter. Even a 4-point second quarter left the freshman sitting on a highly respectable 10 points at halftime, shooting 5 of 9 from the field in the process, in part courtesy of her ability to get to the rack. But with UC Riverside extending their lead to 38-30 as the teams headed to the locker room, something bigger would be required by Cal Poly in the second half.

After an early turnover to open the second half, Ellis gradually began to take over as the third quarter continued. An assist and a couple of free throws kept things ticking over for the freshman, before seven quick points ensured her team would stay in touch going into the final term, with the scoreboard reading 54-49 in UC Riverside’s favour.

Having sat for the last couple of minutes of the third quarter, Ellis re-entered for the start of the fourth quarter and immediately set about reeling in the small deficit. A three to open the quarter cut the margin to two, before the freshman single-handedly kept pace with UC Riverside, as the Mustangs – or more accurately, Ellis – traded baskets with their opponents. However, despite Ellis’ best efforts, and some brief support from Oregon transfer Sierra Campisano, the Mustangs were unable to completely bridge that gap.

Until, suddenly, in the final two minutes, they were. And once again, it was the freshman producing. A mid-range jumper delivered Ellis her first college 30-point game, before a three with just over 90 seconds to play cut the deficit to a single point. A jumper from closer range handed Cal Poly their first lead since the score read 6-3 early in the first quarter, but the job wasn’t done. However, the Mustangs’ defence kept UC Riverside scoreless for the last 2 minutes and 40 seconds, and with Ellis and Campisano icing the game at the line, Cal Poly snatched victory with a sterling effort down the stretch as the final score read 75-70.

Ellis’ 37-point evening saw the freshman hit 14 of 20 from the field, whilst her perfect 6 of 6 at the charity stripe formed part of a record-breaking 14 of 14 night from the line for the Mustangs. Cal Poly had never shot 100% from the line for a game on more than 10 attempts, with their previous record of 94.4% being set in 1982. The 37 points also represent the most by any freshman this season, tying with Cal Baptist’s Taylor Wu. Ellis’ performance was also the second 30-point outing by an Aussie against UC Riverside this season, following Jaz Shelley’s 32-point explosion for Oregon earlier this year.

Courtney Woods sits just shy of the top 2% in the nation for scoring average after pouring in another 22 points against Ohio. The senior lit it up from outside, burying 6 of 11 threes to finish with a team-high scoring performance alongside four assists. Although the Huskies couldn’t overcome a first-half deficit in falling to an 85-79 loss, Woods’ performances of late have been highly encouraging. The senior has scored 20 points or more in four of her last five appearances, and has connected on 52% from deep across the last three games.

It’s been a tough season for Cal in conference play this year, but Sara Anastasieska is making up for lost time in her senior season. Having missed the entirety of the 2018/19 season due to injury, Anastasieska has moved into the starting lineup in her senior year, and this week posted her second 20-point performance of the season against Utah. The 22-point outing gave Cal a real chance at their first conference win, and although the Golden Bears couldn’t quite hold on, the first three quarters proved highly encouraging. Anastasieska’s season average of 9.4 points has more than tripled her output from 2017-18, in which she averaged just 2.8 per contest in 10 games before being shut down due to injury.

Haylee Andrews and Alexandra Fowler were once again among the best for Portland as the Pilots marched to a 74-49 win over Loyola Marymount, extending their winning streak to four games in the process. Freshman Fowler posted her third double-double in five games, tallying 17 points and 10 rebounds as well as three steals just for good measure. Meanwhile, Andrews earned her way into the top 10 in the nation for assists per game, posting 8 alongside an impressive 18 points and 6 rebounds. The third member of Portland’s Aussie cohort, Keeley Frawley, also chipped in 6 points and 6 rebounds, shooting 3 of 4 in the process.