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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Aggies fend off Dons in home opener

The Aggies’ mindset this season has been to spread the wealth.

UC Davis did exactly that Tuesday night in its home opener against San Francisco, using a balanced offensive attack to beat the Dons at the Pavilion, 56-49.

“Because of our offense,” head coach Sandy Simpson said, “the ball moves so much that you don’t know who is going to end up with the opportunity. If we are a team that can have four in double figures and a couple more in the high singles, that’s probably an ideal game for us.”

Freshmen Kasey Riecks and Lauren Juric led the way with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Senior Genevieve Costello and sophomore Paige Mintun each added nine points, while freshman point guard Hana Asano, who made her first start in place of the injured Haylee Donaghe, pitched in with seven points and six steals.

“It’s exciting,” Asano said. “I look around and see the Band-uh!, see my teammates and I just feel confident because I know that Genevieve will help me. She is so experienced. Playing next to her is really comforting.

“Tonight was fun. That was one of the things we said in the huddle before [the game] – have fun. I think that all of us had fun.”

The Aggies (2-1) had a ball at the onset of the game, never surrendering their lead throughout the entire first half and entering the break with a 29-20 lead on 60 percent shooting from the floor.

That lead quickly evaporated, as a 9-2 run by the Dons over a span of 2:36 starting the second period cut the Aggies’ lead to two.

San Francisco’s run was sparked by the play of junior Danesha Wright and senior Shay Rollins, who scored a combined 34 points.

“We knew Shay and Danesha could both shoot the three and we were concerned about that,” Simpson said.

The Dons, who hit 11 three-pointers, didn’t have enough to overcome the spread offense of a youthful Aggies team.

UC Davis also used its height advantage to outrebound San Francisco, 30-23, gaining a 32-8 edge in points in the paint.

“To a certain a degree, I thought this was more of a veteran win,” Simpson said. “I really thought that the game we played at Denver would serve us well, but I didn’t think it would necessarily be the very next game.

“If we continue to have some close games, we will learn a little from each one. Maybe by the time league rolls around we will be able to handle ourselves in the last five or six minutes of a tight game.”

UC Davis’ veteran players are confident in the abilities of the team’s younger members to help the Aggies do just that.

“I feel really confident,” Mintun said. “I feel like we mesh really well. I can trust my teammates with the ball at the last minute. They play like veterans more than freshmen.”

Simpson believes his young team has room for improvement, but at the same time, already possesses some very important qualities.

“The problems we are having right now are execution problems and some of that is tied to our youth,” Simpson said. “You can correct technical things, but you can’t correct heart or lack thereof. I’m really impressed with this team. They are young but they can compete.”

UC Davis will be looking for more of the same tonight as they play host to Santa Clara (1-6). Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

 

MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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