The games between the Aggies and Tigers have a recent history of turning into battles, and this was no different.
Having dropped two road games in a row, the UC Davis women’s basketball program got back in the win column this weekend with a 65-61 victory over host Pacific.
This was the only game for UC Davis this week, and being well rested paid off. Just like the match-up earlier this season, in which the Aggies pulled out a dramatic 59-51 win, this one came down to the wire.
“We knew it was going to be a battle because it was a key game for both teams,” Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. “We came with a lot of focus, energy and passion.”
UC Davis put up a strong first half, but were matched blow for blow by the Tigers. The Aggies’ largest lead came five minutes into the game when senior Kasey Riecks drained the first of her trio of three-pointers in the game to make the score 10-4.
The two teams played a grueling first half and would go into the break deadlocked at 25 points apiece. The second half picked up right where the first left off, both teams coming out all guns blazing.
The Tigers would gain a slight advantage when it went on a 9-0 scoring run to go up 38-30 five minutes into the second half. Yet, the Aggies pushed back and pulled even with Pacific with 6:44 remaining.
“They had stretches where they started gaining the lead, but we battled back and kept our focus,” Gross said. “But we were very composed when the game was going back and forth and got it done on both sides of the ball.”
The Tigers continued to gain small leads, forcing the Aggies to play catch-up, but UC Davis never relented and patiently waited to get its foot in the door.
Senior Samantha Meggison led the charge for UC Davis, contributing most of her 19 points with key baskets that kept the game close until the Aggies grabbed a lead that they would hold on to for the last 52 seconds of the game.
In the final four minutes of play, Meggison put up 10 straight points to put UC Davis in a position to win. She was 4-5 from the free-throw line and also grabbed three rebounds to round out the night.
Yet, she was not alone, as three other Aggies dropped over 10 points. Riecks had 13 points, and juniors Blair Shinoda and Hannah Stephens both scored 12 points apiece.
“It’s comforting knowing we have a lot of players who play good minutes, I’m very comfortable with the ball in different players’ hands,” Gross said. “Tonight it was [Meggison] but it never comes down to the last play, it’s what happens in the middle and how everyone plays leading up to that point.”
In the end, Gross credited the victory to the Aggies’ defense and will to win.
“In any close game, it comes down to who makes the most plays and who makes the stops because you have to be consistent on both sides of the ball,” she said. “We had players that stepped up and made defensive and offensive plays and that’s what it came down to.”
The win over the Tigers completes the season sweep for the Aggies and also propels UC Davis into third place in the Big West conference with two home games remaining to close out the regular season. The Aggies are now 16-10 overall, 8-6 in conference action.
“From here on out, there’s going to be a lot of intensity and urgency, we’re going to have to bring a lot of this focus to the court,” Gross said. “Every game is crucial and we’re trying to gain momentum for playoffs and for that home court advantage.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.