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Friday, April 12, 2024

UC Davis women’s basketball defeats CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners 62-46

The Aggies hold on to four wins and two losses at the start of this conference season 


By LUCIENNE BROOKER — sports@theaggie.org


After a rocky start to the conference season, the UC Davis women’s basketball team was able to turn their performance around and win four consecutive games. With losses against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly in the opening matches of the season, the future was looking bleak for the Aggies. However, the team stayed optimistic and was able to make a comeback streak, most recently defeating CSU Bakersfield in the latest match. 

On Jan. 4, UC Davis earned their first conference win of the season — defeating UC Riverside in a tight match. The Aggies held the advantage for most of the game, but that wasn’t enough to stop the Highlanders from remaining a formidable opponent until the final whistle was blown. 

The Aggies put on one of the best performances we’ve seen all season, leaving the Highlanders to play catch-up. Tova Sabel, a fourth-year psychology major, led the team in points scored — a total of 16 points — with Megan Norris, a second-year political science major, and Evanne Turner, a fourth-year psychology major, right behind her with 13 points each. Additionally, Sydney Burns, a third-year human development major, had a team-high of five assists. However, despite a strong game from the Aggie offense, things got tense in the final quarter with the Highlanders refusing to give up the game. 

Heading into the final 10 minutes of play, the Aggies held a comfortable 20-point lead and were trying to run out the clock when the Highlanders attempted a comeback. The Highlanders went on an 18-2 scoring run to cut the lead to just three points with less than a minute left on the clock. The Aggies, feeling the pressure, were not ready to let their first conference win slip away. With an outstanding defensive play, the Aggies were able to prevent the Highlanders from capitalizing on their last chance to score. 

In one final play, Norris converted to free throws to clinch the 63-59 victory for UC Davis. Despite some nervous moments for both Aggie players and fans, there were plenty of positives in their performance. Notably, the defense held the Highlander offense to a record low of 34.8 percent shooting from the field, a statistic that definitely helped ensure their ultimate victory.

Next up, the Aggies faced a quick turnaround as they headed back to the University Credit Union Center in Davis to face off against UC Irvine on Jan. 6. The team treated a passionate crowd of 1,012 Aggie fans to a thrilling match as they defeated the Anteaters 60-57. Sabel and Turner again contributed great success to the team — 16 and 13 points respectively. They were joined by Mazatlan Harris, a third-year animal science major, who scored 8 points. 

This time, Davis was the team forced to play catch-up for most of the match as UC Irvine’s offense gave a stellar performance. However, it was ultimately the Aggies who were able to take the lead in the final moments of the game. With a game-changing steal by Bria Shine, a third-year neurology, physiology and behavior major, in the last seconds of the game, UC Davis earned their second conference victory and improved to a 2-2 season record. 

After her massive performances against both Riverside and Irvine, where she scored 16 points in each game, Sabel was named the Big West Player of the Week. The guard has provided a huge boost to the Aggie offense this season, averaging over 14 points per game. 

After two tight victories, UC Davis players and fans were relieved when the team comfortably defeated CSU Northridge 55-45 on Jan. 11. The offensive trio — Turner, Sabel and Norris — combined for 41 of 55 points, and Burns again led in assists. The Aggies took the lead in the first quarter on an 11-0 run and never looked back, maintaining their lead for the rest of the game thanks to stellar defense. 

With another comfortable win against CSU Bakersfield, the Aggies improved to 4-2 in the conference and jumped to the fourth spot in the league. Their 62-46 defeat of the Roadrunners relied heavily on an electric performance by Turner, who scored 22 points and nearly tied her season high. Additionally, Sabel and Norris continued their high-scoring streaks to contribute to the team’s offensive power. 

The Bakersfield Roadrunners were not at their best, playing a poor game after being forced into unnecessary mistakes at the hands of the Aggie defense —- ultimately costing them the win. Again, Davis’ strength never faltered after taking the lead in the first quarter, leaving Aggie fans excited to see Lena Svanholm, a chemistry graduate student, return from injury and score some points.

UC Davis women’s basketball will face UC Irvine this week for another time this season as they look to move up in the conference standings. This match will undoubtedly be an exciting one as the Aggies look to continue their winning streak and make fans proud.  

Written by: Lucienne Brooker — sports@theaggie.org


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