Coach Sandy Simpson stressed one major point after his team’s 63-60 loss to Pacific on Saturday night: rebounding.
“The second half came down to rebounding,” Simpson said. “They got too many second chances.”
Pacific dominated UC Davis on the boards, outrebounding the Aggies 17-9 on the offensive glass and 37-27 overall as the Tigers proved to be too much.
“I thought we controlled the tempo early on,” Simpson said, whose Aggies led for much of the first half. “But they came back. It was a combination of three bad luck turnovers and a couple of regular turnovers.”
The Aggies (7-12, 3-5) and the Tigers (11-9, 5-3) played close throughout the first period of play, as there were nine lead changes and three ties. Pacific took a 31-30 advantage into the locker room.
Pacific came out strong in the second half, but UC Davis came back to hold a three-point lead with 8:40 remaining.
Thirty-five seconds later, senior Whitney Price scored on a fast break lay-up to give the Tigers a lead that they would not let go.
The Aggies had possession down three with 16 seconds to play, but the Tigers’ defense clamped down, as the Aggies were not able to get a shot off in the final seconds.
“We had the ball down three,” Simpson said. “Genevieve [Costello] had a look early but passed it up trying to run the set. Kasey [Riecks] had a slight opening but she wasn’t sure if she could [get the shot off]. With three or four seconds left, they closed down and denied the shot.”
Sophomore Paige Mintun led all scorers with 17 points. She also contributed six rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
Riecks also played well for the Aggies, scoring 14 points in a team-high 37 minutes.
Pacific was led offensively by senior Janae Young’s 15 points. She also contributed on the defensive side of the ball with six steals.
UC Davis shot 44.9 percent from the floor while Pacific was at 41.1 percent. The Aggies went 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Aggies are half way through their conference schedule, and roster-wise, are still where they were a couple of weeks ago. They will go with only eight or nine players every night.
Freshman Lisa Peterson is working her way back into the mix after returning from injury. She played one minute against the Tigers.
“Lisa is coming back from injury,” Simpson said. “She is working on getting her timing back.”
Despite the loss, the Aggies showed resiliency in losing by only three points at the Alex G. Spanos Center – a place where the Tigers were 9-0 prior to Saturday’s contest, beating their opponents by an average of over 10 points per game.
“There is frustration in the sense that we are all competitive,” Simpson said. “We all want to win. The players need to understand that the only way we fail is if we get beaten down by tough losses. I don’t see this team giving up.
“If we had been discouraged after the losses at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, I would be concerned. But we worked hard this week. We are getting stronger and stronger with the passing weeks, and I think we will continue to get better as we head to March.”
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at email@example.com.