UC Davis could not have asked for a better start to the 2010 season.
The Aggies relied on aggressive defense and hot shooting as they won their first two games by a combined 63 points. UC Davis gave up just 28 combined points in the first half of both matches.
Friday – UC Davis 69, San Francisco 45
Defensive intensity was the name of the game as UC Davis opened its season on the road against a young San Francisco team.
The Aggies held the Dons to 14 points and 17 percent shooting in the first half.
Coach Sandy Simpson believed San Francisco’s lack of experience came into play as the Aggies dominated defensively.
“They’re a young team,” he said, “and if you haven’t seen the way we play before, it’s tough. Our zone traps and defensive pressure are hard to simulate in practice.”
The Dons improved in the second half, but the Aggies were too strong as they cruised to the 69-45 win.
One of the keys for the Aggies was how they crashed the glass – UC Davis out-rebounded San Francisco 46-27 for the game. Simpson knows grabbing boards has not been a characteristic of UC Davis teams in recent years.
“[Rebounding] has been an Achilles heel for us in the past,” he said. “We out-rebounded them by a significant margin and we were able to get a lot of offensive boards.”
Leading the way for the Aggies offensively was senior Paige Mintun, who scored 20 points, shooting 50 percent from the field.
All 12 UC Davis players that checked in scored.
Sunday – UC Davis 77, Washington State 38
Simpson expected the Aggies to be evenly matched with the Cougars.
He was wrong.
“If we played Washington State five more times, they will probably all be close games,” Simpson said. “Fortunately we only have to play them once.”
The Aggies obliterated the Cougars in a game where the only tie was at zero.
The Aggies again started strong on defense, holding their opponent to just 14 first-half points for the second straight game.
Mintun believes the team’s success was largely due to the play of the backcourt.
“The guards in our zone played really well early,” she said. “[Hana] Asano and [Samantha] Meggison really set the tone for the game.”
Asano and Meggison each had six steals and the Aggies forced 28 turnovers – 20 of which came in the first half.
Those steals created transition opportunities for UC Davis, and the Aggies converted with 22 points off turnovers in the first half.
“Our defense was creating our offense,” Mintun said. “It created a new pace for the game. We’re capable of playing at a fast speed.”
UC Davis controlled the tempo for the majority of the contest, and the Aggies cruised to a 39-point victory over the Pac-10 squad.
The Cougars finished the game shooting just 25.5 percent from the field – 0 for 19 from three-point range.
Senior Heidi Heintz led UC Davis with 14 points. Heintz believes her success stemmed from the overall team attitude.
“We went out there with the mentality of wanting to hit open shots,” Heintz said. “I wanted to be aggressive and I felt really confident.”
Mintun and junior Vicky Deely both finished in double digits in scoring with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Aggies had 11 different players score in the game. The contest went even better than Simpson could have imagined.
“I don’t know if I expected us to play as well as we did,” he said. “We caught them on a poor shooting day and we were really playing well defensively. Those two factors conspired to create a blowout situation.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.