Teams: UC Davis at Cal Poly; at UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 14-6 (6-1); Mustangs, 13-7 (6-2); Gauchos 7-13 (4-4)
Where: Mott Gymnasium – San Luis Obispo, Calif.; The Thunderdome – Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Today at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to watch: Sophomore Courtney French has her long-range shot stuck on automatic.
The Stockton, Calif. native has drawn the attention of coach Sandy Simpson as her .422 three-point percentage ranks third in the Big West Conference.
“Courtney could very well be the best three-point shooter I’ve ever coached,” Simpson said.
Did you know? Cal Poly forward Kristen Santiago ranks first in the Big West Conference in points per game (19.5) and rebounds per game (7.9). She also ranks second in field goal percentage (.547).
Preview: Earlier this season, UC Davis relied mostly on depth to win games.
That was so November.
While the Aggies still use their depth to their advantage, they have added confidence, experience and versatility to their arsenal.
“We’re a lot more mature,” said Paige Mintun, forward. “We remember losing to Creighton in overtime. Since then, we’ve had the mentality where we refuse to lose. It seems like we’re so much older now.”
Simpson would agree.
“Rather than feeling anxious about the outcome, they’re asking very detailed tactical questions,” Simpson said. “They’re imparting information rather than having an emotional reaction based on the game situation. That’s the sign of a maturing team and I’m just really pleased that we’ve learned each step of the way.”
This maturity has led to a team capable of winning any type of game in any building whether or not it’s playing to its ability.
“We’ve been a pretty good road team,” Simpson said. “The good thing is it’s not like all cylinders have to be firing. Our confidence comes from knowing that if we don’t play well, we’ll probably still be in a position to win at the end regardless of where the game is played.”
One area of its game that UC Davis normally has confidence in – three-point shooting- will play a pivotal role in this weekend’s games.
The Aggies’ .363 three-point percentage ranks first in conference, while the Mustangs and Gauchos rank first (.304) and fourth (.333) in three-point defense, respectively.
Despite UC Davis’ ability to score points in bunches, the Aggies believe that the contests against the Mustangs and Gauchos will be highly contested.
“They won’t be blowouts because they’re two pretty evenly matched teams,” Simpson said. “We haven’t been playing our best lately but we’re finding the resolve to win.”
– Mark Ling