Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal State Northridge; vs. Long Beach State
Records: Aggies, 9-6 (1-2); Matadors, 8-7 (3-0); 49ers, 7-9 (2-1)
Where: The Pavilion
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to Watch: If rebounding is the Achilles Heel of the UC Davis women’s basketball program, Lauren Juric will hopefully be the brace that keeps it stable.
Juric sat out for the first half of the season due to injury, but debuted in the Aggies’ victory over UC Riverside. The senior will provide height and some help on the boards for the Aggies, who have been starting five guards for much of the first half of the season.
Juric had the most rebounds of all the players returning from last year, with 110 in the 2010-11 season.
Did you know? Hana Asano tallied 25 assists over winter break, bringing her career total to 256. This places her in 10th all time on UC Davis’s career assists list.
Asano passed Suzy Charles’s mark of 253 from 1993 when she tallied two assists in the Aggies’ win over UC Riverside. Her 50 assists on the season leads the team.
Preview: Despite the recent struggles the Aggies have had — going 1-2 to start Big West Conference play — the team knows there is no reason to panic.
UC Davis began league play last season with a home loss to Cal State Fullerton, but still ended up winning the conference tournament.
UC Davis can also be encouraged by the return of Juric and sophomore Kelsey Beard, and the new dynamics they bring to the floor. Both players provide height for the Aggies, who have started five guards for much of the season.
The team has not shot as well as it is can, but head coach Jennifer Gross is not discouraged, although she recognizes the team has much room for improvement.
“I’ve seen great improvement every day and our communication is getting better,” she said. “We’ve been focusing on defending and rebounding in practice and those have gotten better.”
The Aggies will kick off the week against Cal State Northridge, which currently stands atop the Big West with a 3-0 record. UC Davis beat the Matadors twice last year in regular season play.
UC Davis will also host a solid Long Beach State team, which is at 2-1 in the Big West. The 49ers’ sole conference loss was to CSU Northridge, and the Aggies know not to underestimate either team.
With a rigorous Big West schedule ahead, UC Davis will count on its depth to carry it.
“Over break a lot of players had pivotal roles and gave us quality minutes,” Gross said. “They’re really going to give us some depth entering conference play.”