The games could not have been more different.
On Thursday, UC Davis was unable to find the basket while on Saturday, it seemed like the team couldn’t miss.
In coach Sandy Simpson’s last regular season home games, UC Davis went 1-1 and locked down a first-round home game in the Big West Conference Tournament.
With the weekend split, the Aggies move to 19-8 overall and 8-6 in league play.
Feb 24 – UC Riverside 74, UC Davis 62
The Highlanders might be the Aggies’ kryptonite.
UC Riverside took advantage of a cold UC Davis team, beating the Aggies for the fourth straight time. Despite the Highlanders having the Aggies’ number, UC Davis can’t wait to play them again.
“[This loss] fires us up,” said junior Samantha Meggison. “We’re confident that we can take them down. We have the mentality that we want to play them [again] and we want to beat them.”
The Aggies were ice cold right from the start.
UC Davis shot just 33 percent in the first half, scoring 19 points and heading to the break down by 13.
The second period started slow as well, and the Aggies fell down by a game-high 20 midway through the final period.
UC Davis made a late push, cutting the lead to single digits, but it was too little too late as the Highlanders held on for a 12-point victory.
The Aggies finished the contest shooting just 38 percent for the game – 3-of-20 on three-point attempts and just 13-for-24 from the free throw line.
“Some nights it just doesn’t fall in,” Meggison said. “That’s part of the game, and we just had a tough time putting them in.”
Junior Vicky Deely was the lone hot hand for the Aggies, scoring a team-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
Meggison was the only other Aggie to finish in double figures, scoring 10.
Defensively, UC Davis struggled to slow down Highlander TreShont Nottingham, who scored a game-high 25 points.
Feb 26 – UC Davis 83, UC Irvine 67
It was Senior Night at the Pavilion, but the Aggies did their part to ensure that it would not be their seniors’ final game on Hamilton Court.
Entering the contest UC Davis sat just a half-game ahead of the Anteaters for fourth place in the Big West. The top four teams receive home games in the first round of the conference tournament.
The Aggies opened the game on fire.
UC Davis shot over 50 percent in the first half and took a 16-point lead into the break.
The Aggies kept things rolling in the second frame. They led by as many as 32 before finishing the game with a 16-point win.
One of the keys for UC Davis was its ability to score from long range. The Aggies hit 11 three-pointers in the contest. Junior Kasey Riecks said it was all about poise.
“When someone gets going, everyone follows suit,” she said. “We shot with confidence, and once one goes in, that confidence becomes contagious.”
Riecks and senior Paige Mintun finished as the only Aggies in double figures, scoring 20 points each.
“You always tell your team to take what the other team gives you,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “[The Anteaters] were really keying on Vicky [Deely] and Kasey took advantage. Paige just did what she normally does and we got her a lot of touches.”
The Aggies’ win combined with a Long Beach State loss to Cal Poly on Saturday night helped the Aggies clinch a home game in the first round of the Big West Championship. That home game could be vital if UC Davis plans to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.
“This is one of the hardest places to play [in the Big West],” Riecks said. “It gives us the upper hand.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org