After beginning the season on the road and taking down a Pac-12 opponent, the UC Davis women’s basketball program came back home to host its first two home games of the season.
They won by comfortable margins in both games and emerged with a 4-0 season record. The victories mark the first of Jennifer Gross’ career at the Pavilion as head coach, but takes more pride in the team’s growth and accomplishment other than her own achievements.
“They’re quick learners and they’re very skilled,” she said. “We’re getting better day by day and their confidence is growing day by day.”
Wednesday – UC Davis 80, San Jose State 60
In its first home game of the 2011-12 campaign, UC Davis made sure it didn’t disappoint Aggie fans.
The Aggies built a lead early with a display of fast-paced offense and high-pressure defense, both of which have been focuses of the UC Davis team this year.
After the first 20 minutes of playing time, they walked off the court with a 42-29 lead, despite shooting below 30 percent. This was the product of going 16-16 from the free throw line as well as 18 forced turnovers compared to five UC Davis turnovers.
“I think the turnovers are a result of playing hard and with a lot of energy. We’re looking to play at a higher pace and with a lot more aggression,” junior Hannah Stephens said.
The Aggies eventually found their stroke and the shots started falling. In the second half they shot 35 percent from beyond the three point line as opposed to the 17 percent in the first half. UC Davis also drained 15 more free throws to total 31 on the game.
Senior Samantha Meggison led the Aggies with 12 points, but three other UC Davis players had point totals in the double digits. Senior Hana Asano and junior Cortney French each had 11, and junior Blair Shinoda added 10 points, which included her six points from the line.
Despite getting 39 rebounds compared to the Spartan’s 60, UC Davis forced 30 turnovers by the end of the game, which more than made up for any deficiencies on the boards.
“Stat-wise you can tell the other team has been out-rebounding us, but this year’s team is really relentless,” Asano said. “We’re a lot quicker and we have to be because of our size.”
Sunday – UC Davis 62, Wichita State 47
From the moment senior Kasey Riecks drained a three pointer not two minutes into the game the Aggies never looked back. UC Davis kept the momentum going to roll out to an 18-2 lead by the ninth minute.
The first half closed with UC Davis leading by a much smaller margin with the score at 25-22, but the Aggies had forced 15 turnovers in comparison to their own four.
Yet when it came out for the second half, UC Davis got right back to “being disciplined on offense and creating that frenzied atmosphere on defense,” as Gross said.
Asano and Stephens pestered the Shockers’ offense, making it quite the task for Wichita State to penetrate the UC Davis defense. The Aggies tallied 14 steals on the day, including three and four from Asano and Stephens, respectively.
Meggison contributed five steals of her own and led the team in scoring, with 16 points.
“To start the second half, we focused on keeping our energy high and the steals from Hanna [Asano] and Hannah [Stephens] gave us quick boosts of energy,” Meggison said. “It’s comforting that you can rely on anybody, and it’s challenging for the defense because we have so many people who score.”
“Energy is contagious, we’re focusing on letting our defense create our offense rather than getting our energy from the offensive side of things,” Gross said.
UC Davis will hope to continue its undefeated season when it hosts University of San Francisco in its third straight home game today at 4:45 p.m.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.