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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Women’s basketball starts 1-1 in Big West Conference play

UC Davis women’s basketball team had two Big West Conference games last week with varying results. The Aggies started off cold with a tough loss to Cal State Northridge on Jan. 9 but with an exciting win over Long Beach State on Jan. 11 at the Pavilion, UC Davis ended their home stand on a positive note.

The Aggies’ first matchup was against the Cal State Northridge Matadors in their Big West home opener. The Matadors entered Big West Conference play with a 4-10 overall record, having lost its last three-straight games. In contrast, the Aggies had won three of their last four games, and aimed to continue their good form.

In the first half, the Aggies started the game strong. They scored the first eight points of the contest on a jumper by sophomore Heidi Johnson, and back-to-back three-pointers from juniors Sydnee Fipps and Kelsey Harris.

However, this advantage didn’t last long. The Matadors answered with a 12-2 burst and took the lead in the game. Although the Aggies had an 8-0 run with five minutes to go in the first half, the Matadors shot 50 percent from the floor and closed the half on an 11-2 run with a 11 point lead.

UC Davis struck back and had a 12-2 run at the beginning of the second half, which brought the Aggies within one, 36-37. However, the Aggies could not find a go-ahead basket, and the Matadors maintained its lead to the end of the game. Northridge held on for the win over the Aggies in a close 56-52 game.

Although the Aggies lost their first Big West contest, head coach Jennifer Gross feels confident about her team.

“I think the key is that it was a very evenly-matched game and we’re right there,” coach Gross said. “Obviously, we would have loved to come away with the win, but our goals are still very much intact. I really believe in this team.”

The second Big West conference game on Jan. 11 was also a very even matchup. Long Beach State is currently ranked third in the standings and has a 9-7 overall record. The game began fairly even for both teams, with eight ties and two lead changes. Midway through the first half, a four-point play from senior Idit Oryon highlighted a 17-2 run by the Aggies and brought their lead back. UC Davis led 39-28 to end the first half.

The game got more intense in the second half. The 49ers came out strong to start and outscored the Aggies, 16-4, in the first nine minutes of the half and took back the lead. The leads kept changing and neither team would lead by more than five points for the rest of the contest.

Both teams played tough and made crucial shots. Scores by Harris, sophomore forward Alyson Doherty and Fipps helped the Aggies stay in the game. Meanwhile, the 49ers had clutch baskets from Anna Kim, Lauren Spargo, Ella Clark. The 49ers’ guard Alex Sanchez scored a key layup with only 33 seconds left in the game, pulling the 49ers even with the Aggies.

With 14 seconds left to play, dramatics occured. The Aggies gave the ball to Harris, who had eight points up to that point, and she nailed a crucial three-pointer from the left corner to help put UC Davis up, 63-60. The clutch shot gave UC Davis its first victory in Big West play.

Fipps finished with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. She reached double figures in points for the seventh consecutive game and the 13th time in 15 games this season. Doherty scored 12 points to go with eight rebounds and a career-high four blocks.

The Aggies start their Big West road trip by heading to Southern California and facing UC Riverside on Jan. 16. Following that game, UC Davis will travel to Cal State Fullerton for a Jan. 18 contest.

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