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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tigers pounce on early Aggie turnovers, pull ahead in second half

Sydnee Fipps was relentless in attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line, but her stellar second half wasn’t enough for the Aggies to hold off Pacific on the road at the Spanos Center on Nov. 11.

The junior forward made a career-best 17 free throws on 20 attempts and scored 25 points —15 after halftime — as the Aggies (0-2) fell 86-78 to a sharpshooting Pacific team.

Pacific (2-0), who clinched last year’s Big West title against UC Davis on March 9, came out of the gates on fire in this one. The Tigers made 10 of their first 11 shots, and their intense full-court zone pressure forced the Aggies into early turnovers.

Following a 64-55 loss to USC on Nov. 8, the Aggies opened the game sluggish. In the first 10 minutes alone, UC Davis committed seven turnovers, which Pacific converted into numerous uncontested layups. These transition baskets, coupled with the Tigers hitting on all of their first four three-point attempts, gave Pacific an early 25-9 lead.

However, UC Davis came storming back with flawless execution of its plays, leading to backdoor layups and open threes. The Aggies scored nine consecutive points in the span of a minute with three-point plays by Fipps and junior Brianna Salvatore and a three-pointer by senior Idit Oryon to make the score 33-31.

UC Davis closed out the first half on another 9-0 run, this one highlighted by Salvatore’s three-pointer with 10 seconds left, giving the Aggies their first lead of the game and propelling the team into halftime with a 42-39 lead.

“Tonight I thought our team showed a lot of resolve,” said head coach Jennifer Gross postgame. “We got ourselves in a hole early, but different people stepped up and made plays to get us back in the game.”

Pacific opened the second half much like the first: on fire from the field and with stellar defense. The Tigers came out on a 13-3 run, and the Aggies were 0-5 on field goals. However, a Salvatore three, coupled with a three-point play by sophomore Heidi Johnson, cut the Aggies’ deficit to one, 56-55, with 12:14 to play.

This was as close as the Aggies would come. Foul trouble and costly turnovers doomed UC Davis in the end, and Pacific recovered a key offensive rebound in the final two minutes to secure the win.

Both teams shot 47 percent from the floor, but Pacific was lights out from behind the three-point line, hitting 12-23 threes (52 percent).

For the Aggies, Salvatore finished with 18 points, hitting three three-pointers and all three of her free throws. She also added four assists and four rebounds. Johnson scored 17 points, and Oryon added six.

“Heidi and Brianna gave us great offensive production, and Sydnee was very effective at the free throw line,” coach Gross said.

Pacific was paced by four double-digit scorers: Sam Pettinger (14 points), Madison Parrish (15 points), Kiki Moore (15 points) and Erin Butler (17 points).

The Aggies have been persistent in making strides to enhance different facets of their game.

“There are areas where we need to continue to improve, but what I love about this team is that we hold ourselves accountable and are committed to improving every day,” said coach Gross.

Gross, Fipps and the rest of the team travel to Palo Alto, Calif. on Nov. 17 to take on Stanford, ranked third nationally, at 2 p.m.

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