Friday, March 14, 2008

They call her Sparkle for a reason

I’ve been covering Cal Poly basketball since the turn of the century (that makes me sound much older than I am), and I’m not sure I’ve seen a more impressive individual performance down the stretch than we saw from senior guard Sparkle Anderson today.
Sparkle. I mean, the name says it all.
Anderson scored six of her season-high 18 points in the final 71 seconds as the Mustangs overcame a 19-point deficit to upset Pacific 79-76 in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament. The Mustangs' comeback victory has been, by far, the most entertaining game of the tournament.
Now, I’m somewhat exhausted, having battled SoCal traffic and worked a 14-hour day yesterday covering both the men’s and women’s teams, but I can’t come up with many better performances by Mustangs on the hardwood.
Anderson started Thursday’s rally with a turnaround jumper with 8:50 left to cut the lead to three.
She also came up with a key steal with 1:56 left and hit Megan Harrison with a full-court baseball pass that kept the Mustangs within three and set the stage for her late heroics.
The senior guard hit a game-tying 3-pointer on the following possession with 1:11 left, hit two free throws to take the lead for good with 26.8 ticks left and added a third free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining.
All this from a 5-foot-2 guard who missed much of the last season with a major knee injury and still plays with a brace and a noticeable limp on that bum knee.
Anderson, a fifth-year senior, has set a school record by appearing in 117 games. In the regular-season finale against Cal State Northridge, she broke a 23-year-old record of 114 career games set by Terrie McDonald from 1981-84.
Again, I’m running on fumes at this point, and it's apples and oranges, but I’d have to put Anderson’s performance up there with Kameron Gray’s outing against USC on Dec. 23, 2003, the day of the San Simeon earthquake when the Cal Poly guard scored 20 of his career-high 32 points in the final 11 minutes of a 93-78 victory at USC.
Gray, who had a tooth knocked out in the first half of the USC game, added 12 rebounds in the win over the Trojans, in what I would argue is the best single-game performance I’ve seen by a Cal Poly hoopster.
Then again, Anderson’s performance came in an elimination game, in the Big West Tournament, in what was looking like the final game of her college career.
Now she gets one more game, Friday’s semifinal meeting with rival UC Santa Barbara.

That's all I got for now. I need to catch some zzzs before tomorrow's game. In the meantime, what are your most memorable individual performances by Cal Poly basketball players? Comment below.

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