No. 8 over No. 5 brought great and not so great news to the world of UC Davis basketball in the first round of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center on Wednesday.
A pair of Mark Payne free throws and stingy defense when No. 8 UC Davis needed it most helped the men’s basketball team complete a 69-68 come-from-behind win over favored No. 5 UC Irvine.
“Our kids were very resilient,” coach Gary Stewart said. “It’s difficult to come back in any basketball game, but in a venue like this and the stakes at the highest point, our kids really responded and executed down the stretch.“
The same seeding upset took place on the women’s side of the bracket, although the outcome didn’t favor the Aggies this time.
The No. 5 UC Davis women’s basketball team saw a slim halftime lead slip away in the second, as No. 8 Cal State Northridge rode its defense to a 64-56 win.
“I thought Northridge did a terrific job,” coach Sandy Simpson said. “Their game plan was to go small with their lineup and bring pressure. Although we did a nice job breaking their pressure at times and actually getting an advantage at the other end, we had some key turnovers against it.“
Disappointment only comes on the women’s side because the Aggies fell to a team they could have beat – a team they beat twice in as many chances by a combined 23 points during the regular season. Had UC Davis won, it would have faced No. 4 Pacific in the quarterfinals, which it knocked off in impressive 58-39 fashion on Feb. 28.
So on paper, it looked like the women’s team should have been the one to advance deep into the postseason tournament. Now, it’s the men’s basketball team that’s moving on to the quarters, getting another chance at Pacific.
Would it be ironic if the men’s first win over the Tigers since 1940 was one to end Pacific’s season? Not really. As we saw Wednesday, that’s just the way things work come playoff time.
Lucky No. 13
Seeing as we’re looking at a Friday the 13th for the second time in as many months, I feel somewhat obligated to put some sort of a UC Davis athletics twist on it.
It turns out 13 is quite the lucky number for the Aggies. Ten student athletes don the number for UC Davis, some of which are among the school’s top performers in any sport. Here’s the list:
Lisa Bender: The redshirt freshman attacker for the women’s water polo team hails from San Leandro, Calif.
Tim Busbin: Busbin has done a little bit of everything for UC Davis baseball. In his first year with the program after transferring from the College of San Mateo, the junior has seen time as a relief pitcher as well as a hitter (.400 average through 10 plate appearances).
Dave Cooper: A De La Salle High School product, Cooper is a junior defender for the men’s water polo team.
Dylan Curtis: If there was an award to be won, odds are Curtis came up with it this season. The former men’s soccer standout was named the Big West Midfielder of the Year en route to third-team All-American honors. He was also named to ESPN The Magazine’s All-Academic third-team.
Cortney French: Coach Sandy Simpson said French reminds him of where women’s basketball star Haylee Donaghe was as a true freshman.
Austin Heyworth: The freshman quarterback comes to UC Davis from St. Francis High School, where he also lettered in baseball and golf.
Renee Ibekwe: A Banning High School product, Ibekwe was named first-team All-Big West in women’s volleyball. The outside hitter led UC Davis with 380 kills (3.58 per set).
Nicole Kociemba: A transfer from Sierra College, the pitcher is competing in her first season with the softball team.
Stephanie Schmidt: Schmidt lettered four times for the women’s soccer team. The forward hails from Santa Rosa, Calif.
Julian Welch: Welch has yet to suit up for the men’s basketball team wearing No. 13, but figures to make quite the impact once he does. The freshman is redshirting this campaign. A shooting guard, Welch is expected to take graduating senior Vince Oliver’s spot in the lineup next campaign.
Have a question you’d like answered in next week’s All AG-Cess? ADAM LOBERSTEIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.