Jan. 16, 2014
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- UC Davis junior Sydnee Fipps scored 15 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to lead a quartet in double figures and the Aggies exploded for a 13-0 run midway through the second half to erase a four-point deficit and pull away for a, 77-67, victory over UC Riverside on Thursday night at the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif.
The win is the fifth in the last seven games for UC Davis (7-9 overall, 2-1 in the Big West Conference), which shot 50 percent from the field for the game -- including a 65 percent clip in the opening period -- en route to claiming only its second road victory of the season. The Highlanders lost their ninth-straight contest, falling to 4-12 overall and 0-3 in league play.
"Every year we have great battles with UC Riverside," Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. "It comes down to execution and we had a stretch there around the middle of the second half where we got stops and we got scores and that put us over the top."
Trailing by four with just under 13 minutes to play, the UC Davis offense found a groove as a free throw by Fipps ignited the decisive run for the Aggies, a burst that included back-to-back three's from junior Kelsey Harris and Fipps that gave them the lead for good. UC Riverside was held without a point for 4:37 during that stretch until a jumper by Brittany Crain, who finished with a team-high 20 points, ended the drought.
UC Riverside came no closer than eight points the rest of the way as UC Davis finished 7-of-8 from the line in the final two minutes to ice the victory.
"I was really pleased," Gross said. "There are still areas where we need to clean things up, but I thought our offensive execution was very, very good. We had four players in double figures, we had different players stepping up and knocking shots when we needed them and, overall, it was just a good team win."
Fipps buried 7-of-11 from the field overall to finish with her eighth, 20-point game of the season and tied a career-high with five steals. Sophomore Celia Marfone added a career-high 19 points on 4-of-6 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the line, while junior Kelsey Harris (15) and sophomore Alyson Doherty (14) also finished in double figures, the latter leading the team with five rebounds on the night.
Natasha Hadley (17 points), Akilah Martin (12), and Annelise Ito (11), joined Crain in double figures for the Highlanders, who shot 48 percent for the game, but just 37 percent after the break as the Aggies made their move.
An early 8-0 run broke a six-all tie to start the game and nine-straight points by Marfone helped the Aggies to their largest lead of the game to that point at 26-15 with 11:39 to play. UC Davis led by 10 points at the under-eight timeout before the Highlanders' offense began to click, exploding for a 12-4 run over a four-minute stretch to make it a two-point game at 35-33 with 3:42 to play.
A basket by Fipps and a pair of free throws by Molly Greubel stemmed the tide for the Aggies, but Riverside continued to hit shots, closing the first half on a 9-3 run, including a near half-court heave by Martin at the buzzer, to draw the Highlanders even at the break, heading into the locker room tied at 42.
Both offenses were sluggish to start the second half, but back-to-back baskets by Crain gave UCR its first lead of the night, 46-42, just three minutes in. Riverside, however, was unable to pull away any further as UC Davis matched the Highlanders point-for-point until the deciding run.
The Aggies close out their Southern California trip on Saturday night (Jan. 18) at 6 p.m. as UC Davis travels to Cal State Fullerton. The Titans defeated UC Irvine, 75-58, on Thursday to improve to 2-0 in Big West play.
NOTES: With her 22 points, Fipps needs just 50 more points to become the 16th Aggie to reach 1,000 for her career... the Aggies are 6-1 this season when tied or leading at the half... Thursday marked the fourth time this season that UC Davis has had four players in double figures, remaining unbeaten at 4-0 in those games... Fipps has led the team in scoring 14 times in 16 games this season.