The UC Davis women’s basketball team started the second half of Big West Conference play in thrilling fashion and pulled out a victory in the process.
The Aggies squeezed out a win over Cal State Fullerton by a score of 57-55 in a game that was decided in the last 15 seconds. Junior Blair Shinoda’s shot in the final will be the one credited as winning the battle, but the entire game was a product of a joint effort from UC Davis.
“Kelsey [Beard] hit a few threes that got the bench roaring. Sydnee [Fipps] was all over the boards,” Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. “So it’s different players every single day that bring something unique to the game and I think that’s what makes us really special.”
It seems UC Davis’ shots are starting to fall, as the Aggies shot over 40 from the field, including 67 percent from beyond the arc.
Every UC Davis player who got playing time put points on the board except senior Hana Asano, who led the team with five assists.
The Aggies had their work cut out for them on defense, as they had to work to shut down the CSU Fullerton’s shooting guards.
The Titans struck first and the teams exchanged baskets for the duration of the first half. CSU Fullerton gained a two point advantage when they got two free throws just as time expired for halftime.
The second half swung in the Aggies’ favor, though, as they shot an impressive 52.6 percent from the field.
When junior Hannah Stephens knocked down a jumper almost eight minutes into the second half, the Aggies gained their first lead since their 8-6 advantage seven minutes into the first half. At this point, UC Davis was up 38-36 and the game was heating up.
The teams traded buckets and were deadlocked until Beard came in with the score tied at 44. She drained two straight threes to put the Aggies up 50-44 with 5:31 remaining.
Despite the momentum swing, the Titans regained the lead with under three minutes left at 51-50 and the ball game could have gone either way.
With the score tied at 55 with 15 seconds remaining, Shinoda put away the jumper that trumped the Titans, giving the Aggies a 57-55 lead that they would protect for the rest of the game.
“I feel really comfortable putting the ball in her hands at the end of the game,” Gross said. “I thought [Shinoda] could get a good look attacking the rim and she brought great focus and finished a tough shot.”
Shinoda had just four points, but they came in the last two minutes of the game and were key to the UC Davis victory. Beard’s seven points in four minutes of playing time were substantial contributions, as were Stephens’ 14 points and Fipps’ eight points.
The victory moves the Aggies up to 14-7 with a 6-3 record in the Big West, good for second place in the conference. UC Davis has a break before matching up with UC Irvine on Thursday.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.