As defending regular season Big West champions, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team will enter the season with much to prove after losing key players from last year’s squad to graduation.

Picked to finish fourth in the conference in the preseason poll, the Mustangs have begun the season at 8-6 overall and 2-1 in conference.

The Mustangs will have the biggest hole to fill of all the Big West teams entering this season as they lost two-time Big West Player of the Year Kristina Santiago to graduation. Santiago led the conference in points per game and rebounds.

Cal Poly will rely on a core of returners to lead the way this season, including Preseason All-Big West senior guard Kayla Griffin. Last year, Griffin was second on the team in rebounding (6.6).

Just as important will be the play of junior guard Jonae Ervin, who was a significant ball facilitator on last year’s team, averaging a team-high 3.6 assists per game.

Cal Poly started conference play with two straight games on the road; in its opening game against Long Beach State the 49ers won 62-52. The Mustangs rebounded with a 64-46 win against UC Irvine. Last night at home against UC Davis, Cal Poly edged out a close 73-71 victory.

Offense has not been a problem for Cal Poly as they are second in the league in scoring offense (67.2) and rank third in the league in field goal percentage (.391).

A version of this article appeared on page 5 of January 11th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.