After UC Davis dropped its conference opener against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, it seemed as though their struggles might run deep into Big West Conference play.
Not everything is as it seems.
“We just didn’t look very sharp [against Fullerton],” said coach Sandy Simpson. “But [against Northridge] we responded really well.”
This is a modest statement considering his team’s drubbing of the Matadors on Monday as the Aggies were the easy victors by a score of 82-56. The 26-point trouncing was the largest margin of victory the Aggies have enjoyed since they defeated UC Irvine by 32 nearly a year ago.
In Monday’s win, junior Paige Mintun got back to midseason form after a rough performance on Saturday against the Titans, her first game back from a foot injury.
Against the Matadors she turned it around, tallying 19 points, seven boards and four steals in just 20 minutes of play.
“Paige felt she was a bit rusty in the first half last week,” Simpson said. “In the second half she started feeling better but she’s obviously back into the swing of things now.”
In addition to Mintun’s domination, guard Haylee Donaghe recorded five steals, while junior Heidi Heintz and sophomore Vicky Deely were a combined 15 -15 from the free-throw line.
As a team the Aggies recorded 15 steals, were 30-37 from the charity stripe and, for only the second time this season, out-rebounded their opponent (42-35).
“It’s more about the offensive rebounds than rebounds as a whole,” Simpson said. “When you get an offensive board you get an extra possession which is invaluable.”
As a result of their stellar play across the board, the Aggies were able to fend off a late charge by the Matadors.
Down by 21 with 17:43 left to play in the second half, Northridge would cut the lead down to 10. Over the next five minutes the Aggies would respond by going on a 15-3 charge that would prove too much for the Matadors to handle.
“We started strong but they came back,” Simpson said. “After the lead was cut to 10 we built it back up. Those are the things you have to do when you have the advantage late.”
The win is the second of three games UC Davis will play in a span of five days. Despite the rigors of travel, game-play and academics, the Aggies believe they will persevere.
“We got everybody a little bit of action today,” Simpson said. “The downside there is that you risk losing a flow on offense but the upside is that the players have more energy. With this many games in a week it’s a balancing act to stay sharp yet maintain conditioning. They’ll have to mentally work through it.”
MARK LING can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.