It’s already been a memorable 2010-2011 campaign for UC Davis.
The Aggies began the season with big wins over teams from power conferences, and they continued their success with wins over Saint Mary’s and Sacramento State during the break.
Their fortune changed, however, in their final game of the calendar year. The Aggies were upset in their first Big West Conference matchup with Cal State Fullerton.
Dec. 1 – UC Davis 71, Saint Mary’s 62
UC Davis looked to continue its dominance over Saint Mary’s as entering December.
The Aggies had beaten the Gaels three straight years coming into the game, but it looked like that streak might end when Saint Mary’s jumped out to an 11-0 lead to open the game.
UC Davis was unfazed, however, and the Aggies were able to take a five-point lead into the break.
“We were pretty poised,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “We just ground it out and got ourselves back into it.”
In the second half, the Aggies took control and earned the nine-point victory.
Sophomore Vicky Deely led the team with 22 points, the highest total for any Aggie this season.
Senior Paige Mintun added 13, making her the 14th player in UC Davis history to reach 1,000 career points.
Simpson believes Mintun’s accomplishment begins with her effort off the floor.
“She’s worked really hard,” he said. “People don’t realize that. One thousand points is a magic number and it’s nice for her to get that.”
Following the win the Aggies moved into the top-10 in the College Insider Mid-Major Poll, registering at No. 8.
Dec. 19 – UC Davis 78, Sacramento State 55
Following a 1-1 road trip in Kansas, the Aggies faced rival Sacramento State.
The teams played a close contest for the majority of the first half, but UC Davis scored seven points in the final 1:06 of the period to take a 10-point lead entering the intermission.
The Aggies broke the game open in the second half, extending the advantage to 19 just four minutes into the final period and never looked back en route to the blowout win.
UC Davis’ success began on the defensive end.
The Aggies held the Hornets to their lowest scoring total of the young season, limiting them to just 48 field goal attempts.
“It was all about the pace of the game,” Simpson said. “They’re a saturation scoring team. They’ve had games where they [have] attempted 90 or 100 field goals, and we reduced that number, so that had a lot to do with it.”
Dec. 31 – Cal State Fullerton 58, UC Davis 56
New Year’s Eve was a day of broken streaks for the Aggies.
The game began with the first change in the UC Davis starting lineup this season with Deely entering the first-team.
Junior Kasey Riecks unavailable due to an injury. It was the first time in her 74-game career that Riecks was not in the starting lineup.
UC Davis got off to a slow start in the game, falling behind by nine early on.
“We were back on our heels,” Mintun said. “We were having a lot of mental lapses and making silly mistakes that we usually don’t make.”
The Aggies gathered themselves and cut the lead to three at half, but a slow start in the second period allowed the Titans to extend the advantage to ten.
Still, UC Davis was able to take their first lead with four minutes left, and extended the lead to four with 1:25 left.
The Titans charged back, however, and two quick field goals gave Cal State Fullerton the lead for good as they handed the Aggies their first Big West defeat.
The loss snapped a 14-game home-winning streak for the Aggies, dating back to last season.
The Aggies struggled from beyond the arc, shooting 1-for-12 from three-point range, 22 percent below their season average.
Despite their struggles, the Aggies know they can bounce back from the loss.
Last season the Aggies fell to the Titans in their first Big West contest, and responded by winning seven straight on their way to a regular-season conference title.
“Nobody is going to go through this league undefeated,” Simpson said. “We’ve just got to take care of the next games. I hope we respond as well as we did last year.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.