Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal State Northridge; vs. Long Beach State
Records: Aggies, 5-8 (0-0); Matadors, 4-10 (0-0); 49ers, 8-6 (0-0)
Where: The Pavilion — Davis, Calif.
When: Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 11 at 2 p.m.
Who to watch?
Sydnee Fipps has undoubtedly been the MVP for this Aggie team thus far, leading the team in scoring in 10 of its 13 games. The junior guard, averaging 17.8 points per game, has scored 20-plus points in five straight games — the longest streak in team history in 21 years — in addition to notching back-to-back double-doubles in the team’s last two games, a loss to Sacramento State and a win versus Simpson. Fipps’s excellent play of late has coincided with the Aggies winning three of their last four games.
A grueling stretch of road games to open the season left the UC Davis women’s basketball team with a 2-7 record, but the Aggies, led by junior guard Sydnee Fipps, have been hot of late, winning three of their last four.
Entering Big West play, the Aggies (5-8) take on the Cal State Northridge Matadors (4-10) at the Pavilion on Jan. 9. UC Davis is coming off a 78-46 drubbing of Simpson University on Jan. 2, which could be a significant confidence boost for the team heading into conference play.
In the contest against Simpson University, Fipps led the team with 21 points and 11 rebounds and was one of four Aggies to score in double figures. Junior Kelsey Harris played a stellar all-around game, scoring 17 points, grabbing six boards and dishing out four assists. Sophomore Heidi Johnson scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds, and classmate Alyson Doherty scored 14 points, recorded five rebounds, and added two blocks and a pair of steals.
“This was a great opportunity for us to look at somebody different,” head coach Jennifer Gross said. “We’ve had a couple really, really good practices with a focus on a couple of key areas. [This game] was a chance to see, ‘how is our focus,’ ‘how is our effort?’ In a couple areas, it was great. In a couple areas it still needs to improve.”
Cal State Northridge is coming off a narrow 74-73 loss to Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 2. The Matadors have lost three straight and look to right the ship against UC Davis. The team is led by junior guard Cinnamon Lister, who has been anything but sweet to opponents this year, averaging just under 16 points per game. The Aggies will also have their hands full with junior guard Ashley Guay, who is scoring 14.3 points per game.
Last year, Cal State Northridge tied for fifth in the Big West, compiling a 9-9 league record. UC Davis was one spot behind in the standings, and the Aggies went 7-11 in Big West competition.
On Jan. 11, the Aggies play host to the Long Beach State 49ers in a 2 p.m. matinee. The 49ers (8-6) split the season series against the Aggies last year, finishing 9-9 in conference play. In both games, the home team proved victorious.
This year, the 49ers are coming off a 88-68 victory at home against Denver on Jan. 5. Before travelling to Davis, the team faces UC Irvine on Jan. 9.
Long Beach State is led by freshman sensation Raven Benton, who scored 26 points against USC on Dec. 28 and leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game.
The Aggies will try to ride Fipps and Harris in continuing their winning ways of late.
After the tough overtime loss to rival Sacramento State on Dec. 28, Gross was impressed with the play of her two stars, and she looks to keep them involved in the flow of the offense.
“Kelsey is a tremendous player, she’s a lights-out shooter, and we were trying to find her whenever we could throughout the game,” Gross said. “… Sydnee is tough to stop, so we wanted to get her the ball in places where she could be close to the basket and attack for 2-on-1’s.”
— Scott Dresser