Entering this week’s games, the Aggies fate had already been sealed.
UC Davis locked down fourth place in the Big West Conference before its final two games of the year and was too far back to catch third place UC Riverside, so one could say these games didn’t have significance.
With the lack of meaning in the games, coach Sandy Simpson was pleased with the way his team performed – sweeping its pair of road matches and moving to 21-8 overall, 10-6 in league play.
“I was worried that we might come out flat,” Simpson said, “but we stepped up in these games and I’m happy about that.”
Thursday – UC Davis 56, Cal State Northridge 44
The Aggies were playing for pride against the Matadors, and they showed well.
The game was back and forth for the first 10 minutes, but UC Davis took a lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half and never lost it.
The Aggies led by as much as 19 before settling for a 12-point win.
UC Davis held the Matadors to under 32 percent shooting in the contest, something Simpson believed was due to Cal State Northridge’s poor shooting rather than the Aggies’ defense.
Senior Paige Mintun led UC Davis with 19 points in as many minutes, shooting 4-of-7 from the field.
Along with Mintun’s solid performance, it may have been the Aggies’ other post threat that had the biggest impact on the game.
“Lauren [Juric] had one of her best games of the season,” Simpson said. “She secured every single loose ball. She must have gained us 20 possessions. Her stats don’t do her justice in this game. She was the driving force for us.”
Juric scored just five points, but added nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
Saturday – UC Davis 73, Cal State Fullerton 58
For the Aggies, the Big West season started and ended with the same matchup.
UC Davis entered Saturday’s contest with Cal State Fullerton looking to avenge its loss to the Titans on the first weekend of conference play.
The Aggies did just that, as they had an 18-point lead at half and held on to get the 15-point win.
UC Davis once again held its opponent under 40 percent shooting. This time, Simpson was willing to give his team more credit.
“This game was good defense by us,” Simpson said. “We were aggressive and held them well.”
Simpson was also pleased with the way they played offensively as UC Davis shot 51 percent in the game.
“Our game plan was to get the ball inside, and we did just that,” Simpson said. “We wanted to get the ball to our post players and our bigger guards and we were able to get good looks.”
The Aggies’ shooting was somewhat offset by their 20 turnovers, a stat that concerns Simpson moving forward.
“We gave the ball away far too often,” he said. “It seemed like every time we didn’t turn it over we were able to score, but we need to do a much better job of taking care of the ball.”
The Aggies were led by Mintun and junior Kasey Riecks who each scored 18 points. Senior Heidi Heintz added 14.
With the victorious weekend, UC Davis moves to 21 wins on the season. That total gives the Aggies their second straight 20-win season, as well as the fourth of Simpson’s illustrious career.
“It shows we’re not a one hit wonder,” Simpson said. “We have shown that we can be a solid squad on a consistent basis. The next step is to lock down an NCAA Tournament berth.”
UC Davis has one more home game against UC Irvine on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Big West Tournament. This will be Simpson’s final game at the Pavilion.
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.