Highlanders Spoil Aggies' Big West Debut, 68-57

Heather Bates led UC Davis with 15 points on Saturday. <br> (Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)
 
Heather Bates led UC Davis with 15 points on Saturday.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)
 

Jan. 5, 2008

Box Score

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Tainoisouti Lott scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the second half on Saturday as two-time defending Big West Conference champion UC Riverside spoiled UC Davis' inaugural game in its new league with a 68-57 women's basketball win at the Student Recreation Center.

The Aggies lost for the seventh time in their last eight games and fourth straight time overall, dropping to 6-7 overall. The Highlanders, who led 27-24 at halftime before pulling away after the break, improved to 4-9 overall and 2-0 in the Big West. Senior Heather Bates, who began her career at UC Riverside before eventually transferring to UC Davis, led the Aggies with 15 points including a trio of three-pointers in the second half. Haylee Donaghe and guard Anna Harp each had 10 points.

UC Davis shot 53.8 percent from the field but was hampered by a season-high 26 turnovers and was outrebounded 30-22, including giving up 16 offensive boards to the Highlanders. Seyram Gbewonyo had 11 points for UC Riverside while Alyssa Morris came off the bench to score 10. Lott, who also didn't start, hit 8 of 9 shots overall, including 6 of 7 in the second half, to go with six rebounds and two steals.

The Aggies led by eight points in the first half but gave up the lead for good at 22-20 when Gbewonyo made a layup with 4 minutes, 13 seconds left before the half. Monica Mertle got the first bucket of the second half for UC Davis to make it a one-point game at 27-26 but Roney Friend converted a layup and Gbewonyo made a three to open the lead to 32-26 with 16:28 to go.

UC Davis went down 51-41 just past the midway point of the half but held the Highlanders to just one basket for nearly five minutes while cutting the deficit to only 54-49 with 4:45 remaining after a pair of free throws from Bates. Lott, though, scored UC Riverside's next five points to rebuild the lead to double-digits and the Aggies weren't able to climb closer than seven points down the stretch.

 

 

Aggie coach Sandy Simpson suspected the game would be a low-scoring affair and said turnovers were the key.

"Twenty-six turnovers in a game like this when the score is going to be in the low 60s or high 50s, every possession is a possession that could potentially decide the game and (we) were too loose with the ball," he said. "(UCR) did a pretty good job denying the high-post passes. We didn't adjust very well."

UC Davis started the game well, holding the lead for most of the first half. Leading 10-7 early on, the Aggies scored six of the next seven points to forge a 16-8 lead at the halfway point of the first half. Donaghe had six points to that point as UC Davis countered its turnovers with hot-shooting that saw it make 64.7 percent (11 of 17) of its tries before intermission.

"We came out very strong," said Simpson. "We played well defensively the first 10 minutes of the game."

Morris and Brittany Waddell hit back-to-back three-pointers to make it 16-14 while Lott's layup with 4:50 tied the game at 20-20. UC Davis was down just 25-24 in the final minute of the half before Waddell's layup with 13 ticks to go made it 27-24 at halftime.

The Aggies' 26 turnovers eclipsed the 25 they had at Stanford in early December.

"We just didn't give ourselves enough opportunities to score," Simpson said.

Bates ws 3 of 5 from long distance as UC Davis made 5 of 12, its highest three-point total since canning 11 against Saint Mary's on Dec. 17. She added a team-high seven rebounds and had a pair of steals. Harp had two three-pointers to help her 10 points while Donaghe was 4 of 5 from the field in tallying her seventh consecutive double-digit game.

UC Riverside made 59.1 percent (13 of 22) of its attempts in the second half and finished at 49 percent for the game. The Highlanders had 20 turnovers themselves but helped balance that with 14 steals. Gbewonyo had six steals to lead all players.

The game was the first official Big West Conference game for the Aggies who are in their first year of NCAA Division I status. It also brought to a close a season-long four-game road swing. UC Davis will try to return to its winning ways when its hosts its first Big West game on Thursday against Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. at The Pavilion. THe Aggies will also host Long Beach State next Saturday.