UC Davis outscored its opponents in three out of four halves over the weekend.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, one of the four halves was their worst of the season.
On Friday, the Aggies lost to Cal Poly by 21 after leading at halftime. They then responded on Saturday by beating UC Santa Barbara.
The hiccup caused the Aggies to fall a half game behind Cal Poly in the Big West Conference standings. Despite the loss, UC Davis (15-7, 7-2 Big West) shows no sign of slowing down as it has won eight of its last nine contests.
Thursday – Cal Poly 69, UC Davis 48
After 20 minutes of play, it appeared that the Aggies would win their eighth straight game.
As it turns out, appearances can be deceiving.
Despite leading 28-22 at halftime, UC Davis would falter in the second period and ultimately lose to Cal Poly by a score of 69-48.
“That was our worst half of the year,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “It was a combination of the fact we couldn’t find the basket and that they got super hot.”
In that second half, the Aggies shot just 20 percent from the floor and 21.4 percent from long distance. The Mustangs, meanwhile, had a 60.7 field goal percentage and shot 71.4 percent from beyond the arc.
In total, only Vicky Deely (10 points) scored in double figures. No player made more than three baskets or grabbed more than five rebounds.
Heidi Heintz had the best all-around game, recording five rebounds, four assists and four points in 28 minutes.
The Aggies were in such a funk that their uncharacteristic offensive woes spilled over onto the defensive side of the ball.
“They beat us down a little,” Simpson said. “We were having such a hard time shooting the ball that we couldn’t maintain our defense.”
The Aggies don’t see the loss as a sign of things to come.
“Sometimes, a loss like that eats at you,” Simpson said. “And other times, it’s so out of character that it’s easy to let it go. We have a short memory and our players have the resolve to bounce back.”
Saturday – UC Davis 62, UC Santa Barbara 54
Not only did the Aggies bounce back, but they never trailed in their road win over defending conference champ UCSB.
Simpson believes the win over the Gauchos was pivotal given the loss to Cal Poly earlier in the week.
“It was huge,” Simpson said. “You need that kind of win for players to understand that the loss is just an anomaly. We’ve taken a tough loss before and we’re always able to respond.”
While the Aggies got the win, the Gauchos made things interesting with a couple of late runs.
UC Davis would lead by as much as 15 in the first half, but UCSB would go on a 20-7 run to close the half trailing by only two points.
“To their credit, they cut the lead down,” Simpson said. “But we responded well.”
After the Aggies extended their lead to eight in the second half, the Gauchos would make one last charge, tying the game at 43 with 8:38 remaining.
UCSB would never take the lead as UC Davis pushed the pedal to the metal for the remainder of the game, ultimately winning by a score of 62-54.
Heintz recorded the first double-double of the season for UC Davis with 12 points and 10 boards.
MARK LING can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.