Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Irvine; vs. Long Beach State
Records: Aggies, 11-15 (6-9); Anteaters, 9-17 (5-9); 49ers, 14-12 (7-7)
Where: Bren Events Center — Irvine, Calif.; Walter Pyramid — Long Beach, Calif.
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to Watch: The Aggies have struggled with rebounding and scoring this season. However, sophomore Sydnee Fipps has been a constant contributor in these areas, averaging 17.1 points and 4.9 rebounds a game this season.
Fipps has also scored 10 points or more in eight of the past 10 games. This is not surprising as she is second in the conference in scoring. Her efficiency is also notable, shooting 44.7 percent, seventh in the conference.
Fipps’ scoring output and efficiency are going to be critical if the Aggies wish to pick up two road wins this weekend.
Did you know? Senior Cortney French has shot a blistering 40.6 percent from beyond the arc in her career against the Anteaters and 49ers combined. She is 26-64 from three-point land all-time against these two teams.
Her most recent outing against the Anteaters resulted in her tying her career-best six three-pointers. This, combined with the 5-10 three-point shooting against the 49ers in their most recent showdown, could be an indication of big things to come from French this weekend.
Preview: The Aggies are 1-3 in the past four games. A slow first half in the Hawai’i game and a lackluster second half in the Fullerton game cost the Aggies two winnable games.
The Aggies cannot afford any more of these halves as they enter into the last three games of the season. They must win at least one of the next three games to guarantee a spot in the conference tournament.
Every team is feeling the pressure to either gain momentum or a spot on in the playoffs in this final stretch. The Aggies are no exception.
“At this point in the season, we know every game is a big one. Everybody’s fighting for those playoff spots and seeds,” said head coach Jennifer Gross.
Despite the losses, the Aggies have been playing good defense. Over the past few weeks, their defensive intensity has been tremendous. They have held their opponents to 33.95-percent shooting from the field in the past four games.
This improvement in defensive play is led by the trio of senior Blair Shinoda, Fipps and freshman Aniya Baker, who are fifth, sixth and seventh in the conference in steals, respectively. Shinoda is also tenth in the conference for blocked shots, averaging 0.8 blocks per game.
The eighth-place UC Irvine Anteaters will be eager to try and leapfrog the seventh-place Aggies on Thursday. This game will be an intense one as the Anteaters are one win behind the Aggies in the standings.
The second part of the road trip is the game at Long Beach State. The 49ers are in fifth place and are thus guaranteed a place in the tournament, but are fighting to improve their seed in the tournament by a spot. The Aggies will need to continue to work hard against both these teams.