Teams: UC Davis at UC Irvine
Records: Aggies, 10-6 (3-1); Anteaters, 4-12 (1-3)
Where: Bren Events Center – Irvine, Calif.
When: Today at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: In basketball, steadiness is invaluable.
Sophomore Kasey Riecks has been the model of consistency for the Aggies.
The Auburn, Calif. native has started more consecutive games than any other active player as her 45-game streak dates back to last season.
Riecks is shooting 44 percent from the floor this season. She’s third on the team in minutes (25.6) and points per game (9.3).
Did you know? UC Davis leads the Big West Conference in scoring defense (60.4), steals (11.7), turnover margin (4.94) and scoring margin (4.0) per game.
Preview: The Aggies successfully navigated their way through the toughest part of their schedule, winning three out of four last week against conference opponents.
Unfortunately, they’re not out of the woods yet.
Despite bringing a three-game win streak to Irvine today, the Aggies know that every conference game is a challenge.
“It’s going to be difficult every night,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “You’re going to see a lot more close games in this conference than you’ve ever seen.”
After a stretch of four games in eight days, the Aggies were rewarded with a five-day break leading up to today’s contest. While the rest was welcomed with open arms, UC Davis runs the risk of losing their positive momentum.
Despite this possibility, the Aggies remain positive.
“Keeping the momentum going won’t be a problem,” said guard Haylee Donaghe. “We all have a common goal. We know what we want to accomplish. We’re a really motivated group of athletes so it won’t be a problem for us to go out and play hard every night.”
Since there are no easy outs in the Big West, formulating a game plan for a team like Irvine can be tricky. In order to consistently overcome their conference foes, the Aggies believe they have to force their opponents to make adjustments.
“We’re going to make teams play the way we want to play,” said forward Paige Mintun. “We’ll play in-your-face defense, then we’ll play an offense that makes you guard everything. We’re going to play our game and they’ll have to adjust to us.”
While having a concrete game plan helps, the Aggies believe the Anteaters will pose a unique challenge.
“They’re a different team than in years past,” Simpson said. “They haven’t won many games this season, but they’ve played everybody well. They’re a competitive team that is tough across the board. It’s going to be a grind.”
– Mark Ling