Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Irvine
Records: Aggies 21-8 (10-6); Anteaters 15-14 (7-9)
Where: The Pavilion
When: Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Senior Heidi Heintz was one of the Aggies’ leaders in last season’s Big West Conference Tournament.
The Spokane, Wash. native scored in double figures in both of UC Davis’ tournament contests, including a 22-point effort in the championship game against UC Riverside.
Did you know? The Aggies’ current three-game winning streak matches their longest of the conference season. UC Davis has tallied victories over UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton during the stretch.
The Aggies only other trio of consecutive wins also began with a win over UC Irvine. UC Davis then proceeded to defeat regular season co-champions Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.
Preview: The formula is simple – extend their win-streak to six games and the Aggies are in the NCAA Tournament.
For UC Davis, these playoff games could not be coming at a better time.
The Aggies are firing on all cylinders, and their recent play has given the team a positive attitude entering the final weeks of the season.
“We’re shooting really well and we’ve been executing on both ends of the floor,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “That gives us a lot of confidence heading into the tournament.”
The Aggies can also feel good about their opponent heading into this week’s game.
UC Davis has beaten UC Irvine in both matchups this season, outscoring the Anteaters by a combined 35 points and handing the Anteaters a 16-point loss at the Pavilion less than two weeks ago.
Still, Simpson believes the Aggies are in for a tough contest.
“I expect the game to be a lot closer than the last time we faced them,” he said. “They had an off shooting night last time, and we can’t count on that again. That said, we know we can beat them.”
One key change in this week’s game could be the presence of UC Irvine’s star post player Mikah Maly-Karros. While it is currently unknown whether Maly-Karros will take the floor tonight, Simpson said the Aggies are preparing two game-plans – one with Maly-Karros in the lineup and one without. So UC Davis will be prepared nonetheless.
The Aggies have a little extra motivation in this contest, because this game will be Simpson’s final game on Hamilton Court.
Simpson said that it will be a special occasion for him, as well as for seniors Heintz and Paige Mintun.
“It’s a big night for us,” he said. “We want to walk off Hamilton Court as winners. More important, though, is that a win puts us one game closer to our goal of a Big West title.”
– Trevor Cramer