This weekend could prove to be the most difficult road trip for the Aggies in the regular season.
UC Davis was hoping to keep their undefeated season alive as they played in two difficult road games.
In the end, UC Davis went 1-1 on the swing, and took their first loss of the year at the hands of No. 15 UCLA.
Friday – UC Davis 70, Pepperdine 62
The road-trip got off to a slow start for the Aggies.
UC Davis began its matchup with the Waves by going nearly five minutes without putting points on the board.
“We were down to start,” said coach Sandy Simpson, “but we used our defense to get back into it.”
Offensively, the Aggies got a spark from junior Kasey Riecks, who scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the final nine minutes of the first half. UC Davis entered the break with a nine-point lead.
“She got us jumpstarted at the offensive end,” Simpson said. “Sometimes you need that.”
The Aggies were able to hold off a strong push from Pepperdine in the second half to secure the victory.
UC Davis shot 52 percent from the field in the game.
Sunday – No. 15 UCLA 65, UC Davis 49
The Aggies were looking to make a statement as they faced the Bruins on Sunday.
The game began slowly but the Bruins jumped out to a quick eight-point lead.
“I feel like we started tentative,” Simpson said. “We looked nervous.”
UC Davis rallied back from the slow start midway through the first half to tie the game at 13.
The Bruins showed their strength, however, and took an 11-point lead to the break.
UC Davis did its best to get back in the game in the second half, but UCLA kept its lead in double digits for the rest of the match.
UCLA finished the game shooting over 50 percent from the field – something Simpson believes was aided by the Aggies’ 32 giveaways.
“It’s easy to shoot a good percentage when you’re getting easy layups off of turnovers,” he said. “When you turn the ball over against a press that’s what happens. It’s difficult to win games that way.”
Conversely, UC Davis was able to force the Bruins into 29 turnovers, most of which came when the Aggies were able to set up defensively.
“I thought we played good half court defense,” Simpson said. “We forced some high-low passes and our back line did a really nice job of getting their hands on the ball.”
Junior Vicky Deely was the bright spot for the Aggie offense, scoring 21 points off the bench. It wasn’t just her offensive prowess, however, that impressed Simpson.
“She had a terrific game on both ends of the floor,” he said. “She was getting to the hoop and knocking down threes, but she also played well defensively. She was really able to match UCLA’s physicality.”
Deely finished the game 8-for-14 from the floor, with six rebounds and two steals.
Despite the split, Simpson hopes the Aggies can turn this trip into a positive learning experience.
“UCLA is one of the best teams in the nation,” Simpson said. “We need to understand that we have a good team and that we can be aggressive when we play against top schools. If we can learn that this will be a trip well served.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.