Only one question remains: Is there a game the Aggies can’t win?
On Saturday, UC Davis earned a 68-59 overtime victory over Pacific in a game that included a total of 65 turnovers and 45 personal fouls.
“The word ugly would describe this game perfectly,” said guard Haylee Donaghe. “It was totally uncharacteristic of us. We knew they force teams to turn the ball over but we still let their press get to us. We made uncharacteristic mistakes but you have to give them credit.”
While the game got off to a slow start, the Aggies were in control early as they led the Tigers 17-5 with 7:44 left in the first half. Pacific would respond with a 12-6 run to end the half pulling to within six at 23-17.
In the first period, both squads combined to commit 42 turnovers and 20 personal fouls while shooting 1-for-14 from beyond the arc. In addition, UC Davis’ pre-season All-Big West Conference forward Paige Mintun was held scoreless in the first half after committing two early fouls.
Pacific continued their run after the break and would lead by six with 11:18 left.
“They had us on the ropes,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “Pacific played a sterling first 10 minutes of the second half and we just didn’t convert a lot of opportunities. We did a great job of getting good looks when we didn’t turn the ball over. We just didn’t get the payoff of making the basket or getting to the line.”
While the first period was marred by fouls and turnovers, the second half was characterized by clutch shooting.
Mintun, who was a non-factor in the first period, proved to be the second half playmaker for the Aggies. With 2:04 left in the game and her team down by one, Mintun would sink consecutive free-throw attempts to give her team the 51-50 advantage.
Unfortunately for UC Davis, Pacific guard Erica Mackenzie would not let her team go down without a fight.
Twenty-two seconds after Mintun’s free throws, Mackenzie drained a deep three-pointer to give the Tigers a two-point lead.
“It looked bad when she knocked that shot down,” Simpson said. “We knew that play was coming. We were prepared for it but we still got hung up on the screen. To her credit, she knocked it down.”
Over the next minute the teams would exchange missed shots and turnovers until Mintun again made her presence felt.
Still down two with just 40 seconds left, Mintun grabbed her only offensive board of the game. Going up for the put back, Mintun was again fouled sending her to the charity stripe for two more free throws.
Mintun proved to be clutch, converting both shots and sending the game into overtime.
Despite fighting tooth and nail down the stretch, the Aggies were excited to play the extra period.
“During the break between regulation and OT, our team was just ready to go,” Simpson said. “They were tired but they couldn’t wait to get back on the floor. I was really impressed.”
After regulation, the Aggies came out with a renewed energy as they scored the first nine points of the extra session.
UC Davis would hang on to win in overtime by a score of 68-59.
Despite the ugly nature of the game, the Aggies showed an unrivaled fortitude down the stretch.
“We just told ourselves, ‘we’re not losing this game’,” Mintun said. “We just refused to lose.”
MARK LING can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.