The Alex G. Spanos Center had become a house of horrors for the Aggies.
The women’s basketball team had lost three straight games on Pacific’s home floor entering Saturday’s game, all three in heart-breaking fashion.
The Aggies ended the streak this weekend, riding two of their senior stars to a 65-57 victory.
Seniors Paige Mintun and Heidi Heintz scored 19 and 18, respectively. The duo accounted for over half of UC Davis’ scoring total.
Having two high scoring players is not something the Aggies do very often.
“It’s really unusual for us,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “But we kept going to them and they kept delivering. Sometimes you have to depend on your veterans and they were up to the task tonight.”
The pair began their takeover of the game with just over four minutes to play in the first half, when Mintun and Heintz combined to score 12 unanswered points – turning a five-point deficit into a seven-point halftime advantage.
“It gave us really good momentum going into the break,” said Mintun. “But we knew [the Tigers] would fight their way back into it.”
Pacific refused to give up in the second half, keeping the game within reach until sophomore Hannah Stephens hit a three-pointer with less than two minutes remaining to stretch the lead to six. Stephens proceeded to get a steal on the defensive end and the Aggies put the game away at the free-throw line.
“Hannah’s three was huge,” Simpson said. “It doubled the score and allowed us to close the game.”
On the defensive end UC Davis was again led by Mintun. The Valley Center, Calif. native led the Aggies with three rejections, giving her the UC Davis record for career blocks with 120.
“It’s an honor to be on the top of the list,” Mintun said. “I feel blessed. Coach [Simpson] is not big on blocked shots, but when I was a freshman he told me he’d allow me to go after the ball.”
UC Davis forced 25 turnovers in the game, and they found success in keeping Pacific guessing by changing defensive looks – moving between their traditional 2-1-2 zone to a match-up zone look.
“We definitely kept them off balance,” Mintun said. “We’re so well known for our traditional zone that when we switched to a match-up zone we were able to throw them off. That’s why we do it.”
One of the few negatives for the Aggies in the game was the loss of Samantha Meggison. Meggison took a hard fall early in the game and was not able to return. Simpson said the injury appeared to be a stinger and he does not expect the junior to miss any of the team’s upcoming games.
With the win the Aggies move to 14-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big West Conference.
UC Davis currently siats tied with UC Santa Barbara for second in the league, 2.5 games behind conference leader Cal Poly.
The Aggies will continue their three-game road streak this week with matches at UC Irvine and defending-Big West Tournament Champion UC Riverside.
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.