Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal State Northridge; vs. Hawai’i
Records: Aggies, 5-9 (0-3); Matadors, 10-5 (4-0); Wahine, 7-8 (3-1)
Where: The Pavilion — Davis, Calif.
When: Thursday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to Watch: Head coach Jennifer Gross has been preaching tough defense to her team all year. While offense can bring hype, defense wins championships and the Aggies have been improving theirs with each game.
Freshman forward Alyson Doherty is one of six freshmen on the UC Davis squad this year, and has already shown that she can be the defensive presence the Aggies have been looking for.
With a solid six-foot-three frame and battle-ready mentality, Doherty has provided a defensive leadership that the team has lacked so far.
She posted 11 rebounds against Santa Clara University early in the season, and led the team with seven against USC in one of the Aggies’ most impressive wins so far this year.
With the Aggies still looking for their first conference win this season, look for the team to strike a balance between defense and offense in their upcoming home series.
With dynamic offensive threats such as senior Cortney French and sophomore Sydnee Fipps facilitating the offense, the young Doherty may be ready to set the tone for the untapped Aggie defense.
Did you know? When the Aggies last faced the Wahine, they took home a victory after overcoming a first-half deficit of 17 points — one of their biggest comeback bids on the season.
The win also came in the championship game of the “Rainbow Wahine Shootout” tournament, hosted by Hawai’i no less.
There’s not always a clear indication as to what starts a grudge match, but make no mistake, the Wahine have not forgotten who stole their crown last December.
This season, the Aggies generally have not been as prone to staging massive comebacks. The winner of the first half has often been an accurate predictor of who wins the game.
Hawai’i will come out strong, but look for the Aggies to shut down their momentum early and often.
Preview: UC Davis will return home this week for two much-needed games in front of their hometown crowd.
After losing two tough games against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara last week, the Aggies are still in search of their first conference win this season.
“The biggest thing is staying urgent for long stretches,” Gross said. “It’s in all areas — offensive, defense and on the boards.”
The Aggies have proven that they can perform at extremely high levels in all three of these categories; however, they have yet to master them all in one game.
“We talk a lot with our team about short segments,” Gross said. “If you look at a whole 40 minute game, sometimes it can be overwhelming to try to do everything right. If we can do that on both offense and defense, those are the times we are coming out and taking the lead.”
The Aggies have shown short but random spurts of quality team play throughout the year. The trick for this team will be providing these displays on a consistent basis.
The Aggies remain one of the youngest teams in the conference, with several freshman and sophomores playing key roles at their respective positions.
However, with each game their maturity and basketball IQ soars. Look to see if all their hard work pays off this week against more Big West foes.