The saying goes, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
The cliché could not have been more relevant for UC Davis in its matchup with Long Beach State.
Despite struggling early, the Aggies were able to turn things around to get a big win over the 49ers. The Aggies moved to 13-4 on the year and 3-2 in Big West Conference play.
UC Davis could not have had a worse beginning to the game on the offensive end.
The Aggies started the contest shooting 2-for-22 from the floor, falling behind early on.
“It’s really frustrating when you’re going through that,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “We were getting good shots but we weren’t knocking them down. We even missed quite a few layups.”
On the defensive end, UC Davis struggled to shut down 49er freshman Brandi Henton, who shot 8-for-14 in the first half for 19 points. Long Beach State shot 56 percent in the first half.
In contrast, the Aggies shot just 28 percent in the first frame, but found themselves ahead by three at the break. Considering the shooting disparity, the Aggies felt confident with their position in the game.
“When you’re outshot like that and you still have a lead, you have to feel pretty good about things,” Simpson said. “We knew the shooting numbers wouldn’t hold the entire game.”
The three-point advantage was due largely to the team’s 15 first-half offensive rebounds.
“[Crashing the glass] is something we’ve really been harping on,” said junior Samantha Meggison. “It gives our team confidence.”
In the second half, UC Davis flipped the script.
The Aggies came out on fire, and were able to extend the lead to double figures with a 12-0 run midway through the period.
UC Davis shot 65 percent in the second frame and was able to snatch an 85-67 win.
“In the second half we were creating more shots,” said sophomore Vicky Deely. “In the first half we were forcing it a little bit. We took the time to get set and that made a big difference.”
The strong shooting night was spread throughout the team.
Four Aggies finished the game with double figures with senior Paige Mintun leading the way with 15. UC Davis also outscored Long Beach State 40-8 in bench-points. The Aggies were glad to show their depth.
“That’s absolutely the way we want it to be,” Simpson said. “We want the scoring to be spread out; that’s best for our offensive system.”
UC Davis also turned things around defensively in the second half.
The Aggies shut down Henton in the final 20 minutes, holding her to just two made field goals and six points.
“[In the second half] we did a much better job of pinching off the lanes and made her take tougher passes and shots,” Meggison said. “She struggled with that.”
Coming off a loss to Cal Poly, and heading into a nine-day break, this victory was one the Aggies really needed.
“It’s pushing us back in the right direction,” said Meggison. “It’s a step to getting back where we need to be.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com