March Madness is in full bloom, but the Aggies have been knocked out of their respective bracket.
The UC Davis women’s basketball program traveled to Oregon State for their first round matchup in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament but could not get the victory that would keep their season alive.
The Aggies fell for the final time in the 2011-12 campaign by a score of 66-48 to end with a 17-13 overall record.
“We had some really remarkable wins and a lot of great moments that we can take with us,” said Head Coach Jennifer Gross. “I really enjoyed coaching this team — this group of players stayed together all year.”
UC Davis continued its streak of slow starts that stretches back over four games. The Aggies came out and were unable to breakdown the Beavers’ defense.
UC Davis held tight, though, kept afloat by its three-point shooting. The Aggies put up a 3-0 lead when senior Kasey Riecks drained one from behind the arc less than a minute into the game.
Yet, once they relinquished this advantage, the Aggies would not hold another lead for the rest of the game.
For the remainder of the half, the Aggies offense seemed a bit puzzled.
Sophomore Brianna Salvatore hit a jumper with 2:46 remaining, marking the first and only bucket UC Davis would have from inside the three-point line in the first half.
The Aggies’ defense kept them afloat, as they only trailed by three going into halftime. UC Davis got 17 points from their bench in the opening frame, nine of which came from junior Cortney French’s hot hand from behind the arc.
The Beavers began the second half right where they left off, and essentially ran away with the game. The Aggies put 28 points on the board in the second half but were no match for Oregon State’s 43.
One of the large differentiators in the game was the Beavers’ 40 points in the paint to the Aggies’ zero.
Junior Hannah Stephens, French and Salvatore were the only three UC Davis players with more than one bucket from the field. Salvatore went 3-3 and finished with eight points while French hit four three’s to bring her point total to 12.
The loss brought to a close the careers of four of the pioneers that helped UC Davis through a unique and difficult transition. Riecks, along with fellow seniors Hana Asano, Samantha Meggison and Lauren Juric all came to the Aggies when UC Davis was making the switch to Division I basketball.
The loss also concludes Gross’ debut season as head coach, a season which consisted of the Aggies’ third straight postseason appearance.
“We’ve had some special players in our program that have helped take this team to the next level,” Gross said. “We recruited [them] to move this program forward … and they’ve done just that.
All four seniors have written their names in the UC Davis record books in some way, and will pass the torch on to their younger teammates.
“We have some younger players that stepped up huge for us towards the end of the season,” Gross said. “Earning a spot in the postseason feels good, but our goals are set higher, and if we continue to do things the right way and build our team first, I have no doubt that we will achieve some special things with our program.”
MATT YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.