Teams: UC Davis at Cal Poly; at UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 5-7 (0-1); Mustangs, 7-6 (1-1); Gauchos, 5-9 (1-1)
Where: Mott Gym — San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Thunderdome — Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to Watch: The “Sophomore Slump” is characterized by a player who had an extremely successful rookie season, but for one reason or another, ends up having subpar numbers as a sophomore. Sophomore forward Sydnee Fipps certainly has beat back this stereotype.
The 5’10” forward is not only vastly exceeding her numbers from last season, but she is also leading the entire team offensively and has proven to be a reliable overall leader down the stretch.
“Sydnee’s consistency has been incredible,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “Last year she had a role as a spot-up shooter and this year she came onto the scene as a sophomore and became a dominant presence both offensively and defensively.”
Of the last six games, Fipps has led the team in scoring five times, averaging 17.7 points per game and collecting her first career double-double against Sacramento State last Sunday.
With conference play heating up this week, look for the young gun from Yosemite to be put to the test against heated Big West rivals.
Did you know? Of the five wins the Aggies have pieced together this season, four involve the Aggies holding the lead at halftime.
Some teams like to play from behind, others like to take the lead and never look back. The Aggies appear to side with the latter.
UC Davis faced the Mustangs twice last season, losing the first and winning the second in thrilling fashion. In the first meeting, Cal Poly took a 27-point advantage into the half and never looked back. However, in the second game, a little over a month later, the Aggies led by three at the halfway mark and were able to close out the win.
The Aggies only faced UCSB once last season, but as the pattern goes, they were unable to recover from a 10-point deficit at halftime.
If the Aggies are to experience a successful road trip this week, look for them to come out of the gate awake and aggressive. As history shows, once they have claimed the lead, they don’t often give it back up.
Preview: The Aggies will hit the road this week and continue with the start of their conference play down south against Cal Poly and UCSB.
Schedules often build upon each game, making the next more difficult than the last, until finally climaxing right around the midpoint of the season.
This year, however, UC Davis will hit the ground running, taking on two opponents who have demanded high-quality play from Aggies in recent years.
“Our main focus is on consistency,” Gross said. “We’re still a young team and we’re still building habits, so for us it is about bringing that effort and intensity and focus one hundred percent of the time. If we can do that we’re going to be tough to beat.”
The Aggies were able to avenge an early loss to the Mustangs last season, winning their second match-up by four points, making one thing for certain — Cal Poly has not forgotten and will come out firing this Thursday night.
UCSB also played the spoiler last season for UC Davis, beating the Aggies in a crucial game that affected the team’s home court advantage in the Big West tournament.
Look for this game with the Gauchos to be all business as the Aggies battle their southern California rivals.
“This team has great unity,” Gross said. “We play hard for each other and that is the makings of a championship team.”
— PK Hattis