In a season riddled with injuries and close losses, the Aggies have had trouble closing out games when they really needed to.
With UC Davis up 49-47 and 3:50 remaining in the game, senior Ashley Blake sunk a three-pointer for Cal State Northridge to start an 11-0 run that would put the game away for the Matadors on Wednesday.
The Aggies‘ season came to a close with the 64-56 Big West Conference Tournament defeat.
“I thought Northridge did a terrific job,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “Every time they needed a big basket, they got it.“
The Aggies trailed 18-12 through eight minutes of play, but 50 percent first-half shooting allowed them go on a 19-4 scoring run to take a two point halftime lead.
Sophomore Paige Mintun fueled the run with 11 points.
The Aggies and Matadors played even through the first 16 minutes of the second period of play, as there were four ties and six lead changes.
UC Davis‘ shooting struggles caught up with it in the final four minutes. It was only able to convert 30 percent of its second-half chances.
“In the second half we just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Simpson said. “We had some opportunities and some good looks, looks I’d take every time. We just rolled the ball off the rim.“
The Aggies did play well on the boards, outrebounding the Matadors 28-24. Northridge, however, had a 16-9 advantage on the offensive glass.
Mintun finished with 13 points, all coming in the first period of play. She added 12 rebounds for the double-double.
“We didn’t give Paige enough touches in the second half,” Simpson said.
Freshman Lauren Juric scored a team-high 14 points while grabbing seven boards.
Sophomore Analee Viena-Lota finished with a game-high 21 points for Northridge. While UC Davis limited her to 6-for-17 shooting, Viena-Lota came up big down the stretch.
“You expect her to have a good game, but for her to put in 21 like that – she’s their third or fourth option ordinarily,” Simpson said. “She stepped up and was a big factor for them.“
The loss brought a tough season to a close for the Aggies, but Simpson sees many positives heading forward.
“Our young players got invaluable experience this year and it will serve us well next year,” he said. “I would have liked to go a little deeper in the tournament, but this team did not give up. I was happy with the effort throughout the year. I never got the feeling that they weren’t trying.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at email@example.com.