It’s all about confidence.
When the Aggies have it, they’re nearly impossible to stop, but when they don’t, they find it difficult to score.
UC Davis experienced some of each this weekend, as they struggled to find their confidence in a loss to UC Riverside, but were able to get it back as they downed UC Irvine.
The Aggies moved to 15-5 on the season and 5-3 in Big West Conference play.
Jan. 27 – UC Riverside 72, UC Davis 50
It was a re-match of last season’s Big West Conference title game Thursday night and the same team came out on top.
UC Riverside forced 23 turnovers and shot 61 percent in the second half to top UC Davis 72-50.
The Aggies came out hot to open the game. UC Davis hit its first three shots on its way to an early 10-point advantage.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, it was all downhill from there.
UC Davis failed to convert a field goal in the final 10 minutes of the first half and shot just 36 percent for the game on their way to their third conference loss.
“We got off to a good start,” said coach Sandy Simpson, “but we allowed them to catch up. In the second half, it was all Riverside. They dialed up the pressure and we made bad decisions.”
Those bad decisions came across in the form of turnovers. The Aggies finished the game with a turnover margin of -6, well off their season mark of +7.
UC Davis’ giveaways turned into easy offense for the Highlanders as they created a transition attack. UC Riverside shot brilliantly in the second half and turned a halftime tie into a 22-point win.
“They pressured us and we struggled to deal with it,” Simpson said. “They were able to get steals and those turned into breakaway lay-ups. It’s easy to shoot a high percentage when you score like that.”
Regardless of the tempo, however, Simpson believes the game came down to a lack of poise for the Aggies.
“Our confidence was shaky,” he said. “We didn’t really seem sure of ourselves in the game.”
Senior Paige Mintun and junior Kasey Riecks led the Aggies in scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Jan. 29 – UC Davis 91, UC Irvine 72
The Aggies turned things around quickly against the Anteaters on Saturday.
UC Davis again started fast, able to take a seven-point lead into the break.
UC Davis came out firing in the second half, shooting over 50 percent in the final period and securing a 19-point win. A big part of the Aggies’ success in the second frame was due to sophomore Vicky Deely.
After scoring just two points in the first half, the Sonoma, Calif. native exploded with 23 points in the second period of play.
“She was shooting with confidence,” Simpson said. “She played like she wanted the ball and her teammates got it to her.”
Deely did not miss a single shot in the game, shooting 6-for-6 from the field (5-of-5 from three) and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Three other Aggies finished in double figures, with Samantha Meggison, Kasey Riecks, and Paige Mintun all scoring in double figures.
The Aggies were able to control the game by avoiding costly giveaways. UC Davis turned the ball over just eight times, finishing the game with a +8 turnover margin.
Regardless of the physical execution, the win was all about the Aggies’ mindset.
“We had a good demeanor in the game,” Simpson said. “Our body language looked like we got our confidence back. We had a lot to play for in that game. We talked about having team pride before we took the floor and our team stepped up and delivered.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.