Like a well-oiled machine, UC Davis is firing on all cylinders.
Over the weekend, the Aggies extended their winning streak to five games with victories over UC Irvine and Cal State Bakersfield. As a result, UC Davis is tied with Cal Poly atop the Big West Conference standings.
“We’re in control of our own destiny,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “It’s still pretty early but it’s nice to know that we don’t have to depend on other teams losing. If we keep playing well and winning we’ll be fine.”
In these two most recent victories, the Aggies demonstrated that they are versatile enough to win games of any sort.
Thursday – UC Davis 77, UC Irvine 44
All season, UC Davis players and coaches have said that no Big West opponent will be easy to beat.
On Thursday, the Anteaters did their best to prove the Aggies wrong.
After taking a three-point lead with 16:20 left in the first half, UC Davis never let up as they dismantled UC Irvine by a score of 77-44.
“We had great intensity from start to finish,” Simpson said. “We adjusted well to their zone defense and hit our shots. We just played really well.”
The Aggies simply dominated in all facets of the game.
As a team, they bested the Anteaters in nearly every major statistical category including field goal percentage (46.8-31.5) and rebounds (38-32).
The only red flag in the UC Davis stat line was the high number of turnovers (21). Despite this, the Aggies believe there is nothing to worry about.
“We made some ill advised decisions late,” Simpson said. “While it’s not ideal, we know that it’s hard for either team to stay sharp at the end of a game like this.”
The Aggies not only played well as a team but also had some impressive individual performances.
Forward Paige Mintun led all players with eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks in just 22 minutes of play.
In addition, three Aggies scored in double figures. Sophomore Kasey Riecks led the way with 17 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.
Due to the nature of the game, UC Davis was able to spread the playing time around as no Aggie played less than 15 or more than 25 minutes.
Monday – UC Davis 79, Cal State Bakersfield 76
In their final non-conference game of the season, the Aggies would have liked an easy win.
Instead, Bakersfield gave UC Davis all it could handle.
The Aggies would ultimately pull out the victory in a game that saw eight ties and 13 lead changes.
“It was a wild game,” Simpson said. “It was pretty defensive in the first half then it was a shoot-out in the second. We were really sharp offensively the whole time. The difference was that we made key stops at the end.”
The game was tied at 31 entering half time as no team led by more than four in the first period.
In the second half, the Aggies would lead by as much as eight. The Roadrunners responded by whittling the lead down and eventually taking a three-point lead with 1:53 left in the game.
Half a minute later, Mintun would drain a shot from long-distance to tie the game at 76.
Bakersfield tried their best to respond but the defensive prowess of guard Haylee Donaghe would lead to a steal and a Mintun layup to give UC Davis the lead for good.
Four Aggies would score in double-figures again led by Riecks’ 21. Junior Heidi Heintz had a great all-around game as she logged 17 points, seven boards and five assists.
MARK LING can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.