UCI (11-5, 3-1), which entered the week 7-0 at home and ranked No. 23 in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major poll, overcame a 44-39 halftime deficit to claim a 56-48 advantage with 11 minutes left.
Junior Mikah Maly-Karros, who had a season-low nine points and seven rebounds in Thursday's 69-58 loss to UC Santa Barbara, had a game-high 28 points and 12 rebounds against the Mustangs. She had 18 points in the first half and produced four during a 14-1 UCI run that created the eight-point cushion midway through the second half.
After a 13-1 Cal Poly run put the visitors up, 62-59, Maly-Karros sank a three-pointer to knot the score. But Cal Poly, led by 24 points and six three-pointers from senior Rachel Clancy, pulled ahead, 70-64, and held off a late charge.
A Maly-Karros layup drew UCI within 70-68 with 1:03 left and, after two free throws by the Mustangs, Jade Smith-Williams made a layup to cut the UCI deficit to 72-70 with 35 seconds remaining.
UCI forced a 35-second shot-clock violation on Cal Poly's ensuing possession and took the ball out of bounds from the Cal Poly baseline with four seconds left.
Kassandra McCalister's three-quarter-court football pass sailed over Maly-Karros and was tipped by two Cal Poly defenders near the UCI free-throw line. UCI junior Kiara Belen beat a Mustang to the loose ball and the collision sent Belen to the line with 3.4 seconds remaining.
Belen missed the first of the one-and-one situation, but the rebound went out of bounds to UCI. The 'Eaters, who had no timeouts, managed to inbound and get an open 17-footer from the right wing by McCalister. But the shot caromed off the rim at the buzzer.