UC Davis has gotten off to a fast start.
The women’s basketball team posted another statement win with the first ever victory over a Southeastern Conference team in school history. The Aggies also topped Yale for a perfect Thanksgiving break homestand.
With the two wins, the Aggies move to 5-1 on the year.
Friday – UC Davis 73, Yale 62
The Aggies opened up the homestand with a matchup against Yale.
Junior Kasey Riecks scored eight of her 11 points in the first 20 minutes to lead UC Davis to an early first half advantage.
More importantly, however, may have been her five first-half offensive rebounds.
“Getting in good position was something I’ve been working on,” Riecks said. “I was able to get in good spots and I brought down some rebounds.”
Despite shooting 46 percent in the first half, UC Davis entered the break with just a seven-point lead.
During the intermission, coach Sandy Simpson got on his team about limiting the opposition’s offensive rebounds. UC Davis took the message to heart and came out in the second period firing on all cylinders.
The Aggies opened the final period by going on a 20-4 run to extend the lead to 23.
“[That run] was huge,” said senior Paige Mintun. “We wanted to come out and push the lead. We got some good stuff in transition, so that helped.”
Mintun led the Aggies with 20 points in the game.
Sunday – UC Davis 61, South Carolina 52
Entering Sunday’s contest against South Carolina, UC Davis had never beaten a team from the SEC – a conference Simpson suggests could the best in the nation in women’s basketball.
The Aggies can cross that of their checklist.
Considering teams such as Tennessee and Louisiana State, junior Vicky Deely would also call the SEC the best women’s basketball conference in the nation.
“Beating these teams helps us get a name around the country,” Deely said. “I don’t think South Carolina knew who we were before they played us. This was a big one for us.”
Despite the win, the Aggies got off to a slow start. The Gamecocks shot 46 percent in the first half, and took a nine-point lead into the break.
To start the second period, South Carolina picked up right where they left off, extending the lead to 16 points and prompting Simpson to call a timeout with 16:30 left in the game.
“[During the timeout] we came together,” Deely said, “and we decided that how we were playing was not good enough.”
From that point on, it was a different game. The Aggies followed the timeout by going on a 14-0 run, cutting the lead to just two points.
UC Davis took its first lead of the game on a Heidi Heintz layup with five minutes to play, and from there the Aggies never looked back, taking the 61-52 victory.
UC Davis was led by Heintz, who had several key buckets on her way to a team-high 17 points in the game despite dealing with foul trouble for much of the contest.
“Heidi is one of our smartest players,” Simpson said. “Her shot selection was great and she made shots when we needed them.”
To Heintz, the comeback was built by the team’s undying spirit.
“The whole team was committed,” she said. “It was about pride and passion.”
As much as he was happy with the historic win, Simpson was pleased with the team’s overall improvement.
“This is another step for us in the program’s evolution,” Simpson said. “I think you’ll just continue to see this team grow.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com