The UC Davis women’s basketball team ended its two-game winning streak at The Pavilion Tuesday night, falling 73-70 against USF in a heated battle complete with 15 lead changes. Facing a daunting 12-point deficit in the first half, the Aggies found their fire after halftime, outscoring USF 33-32. 21 turnovers from the Aggies proved to be too many, however, as the team rounded the night at 3-3 record.
Junior forward Alyson Doherty ignited energy in the second half, contributing the team’s highs of 14 points and eight rebounds. Junior forward Celia Marfone hit the scoreboard with 11 points, followed by senior forward Sydnee Fipps and freshman guard Rachel Nagel, who each finished with 10 points.
“We’ve been really efficient offensively,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “We just have to be more relentless defensively. We’re too good to give up 41 points in the first half to somebody. We need to be better than that.”
The Aggies, who were 41-37 out of the first half, urgently searched for a spark during the half to make a comeback in the second. “At halftime, we all agreed that we were just gonna be better with the ball, focus more and shorten our passing lanes,” Gross said.
Greater focus and shortened passing lanes were just what the Aggies needed, as they tightened the game to a tie in the first four minutes of the second. A perfectly aimed attempt from the outside by senior guard Kelsey Harris gave the Aggies the lead at 16:07.
Emotions ran high with less than two minutes on the clock, as the teams sat evenly at 70-70. A foul call with under 30 seconds left gave USF a 71-70 lead before an intentional foul gave them two more free throws. USF scored both and held off two last minute shots by Doherty with extensive pressure on her last push to the net. USF ended the night in celebration with a 6-1 record.
Junior point guard Molly Greubel was absent from Tuesday’s match due to an injury to her wrist. Freshman point guard Dani Nafekh filled her big shoes and contributed a game high of seven assists.
“It’s awesome being able to get out there after so much practice,” Nafekh said after the game.
Nafekh has been drawing positive attention from fellow teammates. “Dani has been killing it,” said teammate Doherty. “She stepped up into that point guard role, and she’s been handling that really well. I’m proud.”
The Aggies travel to Colorado in a fight for redemption at the Air Force Tournament this weekend. They will face Santa Clara and Southern Utah on Friday and Saturday.