Many teams have and will suffer the same fate as the Aggies against Stanford, the best team in the country.
In front of 2,612 fans — the ninth largest home attendance at UC Davis in history — the UC Davis women’s basketball team fell 87-38 to the Cardinal, a team that currently holds the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, they were simply outmatched and outsized against the powerhouse Cardinal, which now stands at 7-0 on the season.
“This was a win-win for us, we got to compete against the best and see what it looks like,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “They’re no. 1 for a reason, they have weapons at every spot and one of the best players in the country.”
Stanford junior Chiney Ogwumike led the Cardinal with 27 points and 13 rebounds, achieving a double-double 16 minutes into the game by the 3:49 mark.
The Cardinal set the tone early, jumping ahead 8-0 to start the game before senior Cortney French put the Aggies on the board with a three. The Stockton, Calif. native’s next three within the same minute made the score 10-6, but she would not score again for the rest of the game, and the Cardinal began to pull away.
The first half slipped out of UC Davis’ hands, and the Aggies would not score for the final 5:15 before halftime. Stanford would have a comfortable cushion of 46-19 at the break.
At this point, Ogwumike’s 19 points and 11 rebounds were more than the Aggies’ team totals. Stanford crashed the boards and dominated the paint, grabbing 33 rebounds to UC Davis’ nine, and putting in 30 points in the paint.
“We tried to balance the rebounding with the turnovers, but it was pretty lopsided on the boards,” Gross said. “I thought we really got down to it in the second half.”
Despite the score, the second half was much more competitive for the Aggies. They held Stanford to 12 points in the paint and only six second chance points after permitting 19 in the first half.
The Aggies had eight steals, and had several glimmers of encouraging play.
Three minutes into the second half, senior Blair Shinoda drained a three. She then stole the ball on the next play and dished it out to sophomore Sydnee Fipps who stepped up and knocked down a three of her own. Fipps carried the Aggies with 14 points, the fourth time she has led the team in five games.
A couple of the freshmen for UC Davis had some highlights, particularly when Molly Greubal sank a three with 13:23 remaining, and Heidi Johnson hit a jumper on the next possession to make the score 33-62. Johnson ended the day with six points.
“We showed we can battle for stretches, and there were times where I thought we had control and we need to make sure those stretches become consistent throughout the game,” Gross said. “The energy stayed high on the second half and we created some turnovers and took care of the ball really well.”
The Aggie defense improved vastly in the second half, holding the Cardinal scoreless from the 14:48 mark until the 10:54 time. UC Davis got 11 steals and forced 17 turnovers.
“Davis gives you fits with what they do, their defense is very aggressive, and they forced us into the most turnovers out of any team this year,” said Stanford coach Tara VanDerVeer.
In the end, UC Davis was unable to score for the final 3:24 minutes of the game, but Gross and the team is taking nothing but positives from the game. UC Davis dropped a game to an undefeated team that has not lost a Pac-12 game since Jan. 18, 2009 for a winning streak of 78 games in their strong conference.
“We were really thrilled for the opportunity to play, and I thank Stanford for coming out and providing a real fun atmosphere,” Gross said. “We were fortunate to get a team like this on our home court and we gave it everything we had and it was a good measuring stick for our program.”
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.