UC Davis opened their much-anticipated 2009-10 season with a bittersweet road trip.
The Aggies began the weekend with a bang as they dispatched the Seattle Redhawks 71-49 on Friday night.
Two days later, UC Davis arrived in Pullman, Washington to take on Washington State. Despite a game-high 19 points from Paige Mintun, the Aggies ultimately fell 64-54.
Friday – UC Davis 71, Seattle 49
This year’s season opener pitted UC Davis against Seattle, a team that the Aggies lost to a season ago.
In that game, UC Davis was only able to dress eight players as it lost in a close contest 65-59.
This time around – with a full roster – the Aggies would prove to be too much for the Redhawks to handle in a 71-49 victory.
UC Davis began the game on fire as they shot 67 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. The Aggies would not ease up after the intermission as they opened the second period scoring 16 unanswered points and blowing the game open with a 49-19 lead.
The Redhawks would attempt to mount two small comebacks late in the game but their efforts proved to be futile as the Aggies cruised to an easy victory.
Sophomore Kasey Riecks led the way as she accomplished career highs in points (21) and three-pointers (five). Junior Paige Mintun dropped 16 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Point guard Hana Asano delivered a career-high nine assists.
Despite the impressive final score, the Aggies committed 19 turnovers and 15 personal fouls.
“This was a typical season opener for both sides,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “We were tight early which led to some mistakes. There was so much adrenaline out there that things got off to a slow start but it was ultimately a fairly easy victory for us.”
Sunday – UC Davis 54, Washington State 64
The final game of the season-opening road trip came against a member of the Pac-10 conference.
At first it seemed that the Aggies maintained their positive momentum from their win over Seattle as UC Davis held an eight-point lead with just under eight minutes left in the first period.
After a Cougar timeout, the Aggies’ lead began to diminish and UC Davis entered halftime trailing 37-31.
“We started out playing well and we opened up a nice lead,” said Simpson. “But after that timeout they came out playing much more physical. They were pulling and grabbing and we didn’t respond well.”
Despite shooting a 25.8 percent in the second half, the Aggies would battle back, shrinking the lead to four points with eight minutes left to play.
By game’s end, the Cougars’ aggressive style of play would prove to be too much for the Aggies to handle.
“They had a couple nice breaks that led to easy baskets,” Simpson said. “But where they really beat us was on the boards where we did not do a good enough job. They put us on our heels and we played tentatively for the rest of the game.”
Despite the loss, the Aggies received impressive individual efforts from Mintun and Spokane, Washington native Heidi Heintz. Mintun delivered a game-high 19 points along with four assists while Heintz scored 10 points and five assists in 30 minutes of action.
The Aggies will welcome Heintz’ former team – the San Francisco Dons – to the Pavilion tonight in UC Davis’ home opener. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
MARK LING can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.