Though the UC Davis campus has been quiet over the past four weeks, the women’s basketball program has been stirring up quite a buzz.
The Aggies played their first of seven games over winter break the day after UC Davis finished finals. Perhaps worn out from the preceding week, UC Davis dropped a 75-58 game to Saint Mary’s in Moraga.
A week later, the Aggies travelled to Hawaii, where their two hard-fought wins earned them the title as champions of the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Shootout.
“It was fun to come home with the trophy,” Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. “We treated it like the postseason, where you have to play a couple games in just a few days.”
The Aggies then proceeded to start Big West Conference play 1-2, bringing their record to 9-7 on the season.
Dec. 31 — Cal State Fullerton 62, UC Davis 57
UC Davis had a week before returning to the Pavilion for open conference play against Cal State Fullerton, but the Aggies could not celebrate New Year’s Eve with a victory. The Aggies lost their first home game and their first Big West contest of the season in a 58-50 defeat at the hands of the Titans.
The Aggies’ 29 rebounds could not compare to CSU Fullerton’s 42, but UC Davis kept the game close with a strong second half.
The Aggies were led by junior Hannah Stephens, who dropped 15 points and tallied five steals.
Junior Blair Shinoda added eight points and five rebounds.
Thursday — UC Davis 70, UC Riverside 53
Travelling to UC Riverside on Jan. 5, UC Davis rebounded with a strong showing, handing the Highlanders a 70-53 defeat.
This was more than just their first conference win, however,it was the return of post players senior Lauren Juric and sophomore Kelsey Beard — who had each missed the first half of the season due to injury.
The duo helped UC Davis on the boards, providing the Aggies with some much-needed height.
“Our two post players are back and it’s exciting to get some size back,” Gross said. “It is just in time for conference and we are hoping it will help us out a lot.”
Senior Hana Asano’s two assists brought her career total to 253 moving her to 10th on UC Davis’s all-time list.
Fellow seniors Samantha Meggison and Kasey Riecks led the Aggies with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Saturday — UC Irvine 60, UC Davis 54
In the final game of winter break, UC Davis was upended 60-54 by UC Irvine.
The two teams battled to a 27-25 score at the end of the first half but the Anteaters would eventually pull away in the second frame and held on despite the Aggies’ efforts to claw back into the game.
Riecks provided much of the firepower for the Aggies, netting 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds, but it was not enough to make up for the struggling UC Davis offense, which shot just 4/24 from three-point range.
The loss to Irvine concluded the Aggies’ winter break schedule, and despite the two conference losses, Gross is optimistic about how the team is playing.
“This break was good for us because we scheduled games so that we could focus on ourselves — when you have too many games in a row, you have to prep for each individual team in practice,” she said. “This way we got to practice on things we were working on, like defense and rebounding.”
“We continue to get closer as a group and grow as a team,” Gross said. “We’re getting better but we’re not where we need to be yet.”
— Matthew Yuen