Momentum can change at the drop of a hat.
Just last week UC Davis was sitting alone in second place in the Big West, with aspirations of claiming a conference regular season title.
Now, following two close losses to teams in the bottom half of the league standings, the Aggies have dropped to fourth with a record of 7-5 and have all but been eliminated from the race for the league’s top spot.
Wednesday – Pacific 65, UC Davis 60
UC Davis got off to a strong start as they put their three-game winning-streak on the line against the Tigers.
The Aggies had the hot hand in the first half and jumped out to a 12-point lead at the break.
It all fell apart from there, however, as UC Davis shot just 34 percent in the second period.
By contrast, after scoring just 21 points in the first half, Pacific exploded in the second, shooting over 50 percent and scoring 44 points after the break en route to a 65-60 win.
UC Davis was uncharacteristically careless with the ball, turning the rock over 22 times – 10 above their Big West average. Pacific was able to convert, scoring 27 points off turnovers.
“Tonight we weren’t focused like we usually are,” said sophomore Blair Shinoda. “When teams are pressuring we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”
The Aggies also struggled to shut down Pacific’s star center Danielle Peacon.
After UC Davis frustrated the Tiger freshman in their last meeting, Peacon was able to find her way to the bucket throughout the majority of the game, shooting 10-16 and leading all scorers with 20 points.
“They were making some good passes in to her,” said senior Paige Mintun. “I didn’t feel like we had the same urgency on her that we did in the first game.”
One of the positives for the Aggies was the play of Mintun, who led the team with 14 points and tied the UC Davis single-game record for blocks with seven.
Junior Kasey Riecks was the only other Aggie to finish in double figures, scoring 10 points and adding a team-high seven rebounds.
Saturday – Long Beach State 60, UC Davis 59
Saturday’s match followed similar suit to Wednesday’s. UC Davis played a strong first half, only to falter after the break.
UC Davis jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first half, and were able to hold a double digit advantage with as little as 15 minutes left.
Long Beach State responded, however, and Courtney Jacob hit one of two from the line with five seconds remaining to give the 49ers a 60-59 win.
Both teams shot below 33 percent in the contest, and Mintun was the only Aggie to finish in double figures – leading the team with 14 points and eight rebounds.
For the second straight game UC Davis had trouble managing turnovers, giving the ball away 12 times in the second half.
“That was the most disappointing part of the game,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “We tried to force passes and we ended up throwing the ball away.”
UC Davis will have time to forget about this week’s Big West struggles as it will face a non-conference foe Seattle on Friday. The Aggies will not resume conference play until they kick off a two-game homestand against UC Riverside on Feb. 24.
“This is the best possible timing for us,” Simpson said. “We need a week to focus on ourselves, and we need to make sure things are fixed by the time we see Riverside. I’m confident that we’ll work things out.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.