Feb. 1, 2012
FULLERTON, Calif. - Blair Shinoda hit the game-winning jumper with 15 seconds left and Hannah Stephens finished with 14 points to lead UC Davis to a thrilling 57-55 victory on Wednesday at Titan Gym in Fullerton.
UC Davis improves to 14-7 overall and 6-3 in the Big West while Cal State Fullerton falls to 9-12 overall and 2-7 in league play.
Lauren Juric finished with nine points and grabbed five rebounds while Sydnee Fipps added eight points and three rebounds.
Lauren Chow led all scorers with 15 points and hit 4-of-5 from three-point range while Tailer Butler added 14 points for Cal State Fullerton.
"We talked a lot this week about that when you go in the game, find a way to spark our team and everybody did that at different times tonight," said head coach Jennifer Gross. "Kelsey (Beard) hit a few threes that got the bench roaring. Cortney (French) was on the floor. Sydnee (Fipps) was all over the boards. So it's different players every single day that bring something unique to the game and I think that's what makes us really special."
In the first half, UC Davis found themselves down by as many as 11 points, but rallied to trail by just two at halftime. The Titans used a 11-0 run sparked by back-to-back threes from Chow and Butler and took a 21-10 lead with 8:42 left in the first half. Juric ended the run with a three of her own, then Stephens and Fipps added in jumpers to bring UC Davis back to within four.
Juric tied the game at 24 with 1:34 left to play, but Butler was fouled as the buzzer sounded, then hit both ensuing free throws to give Cal State Fullerton the slight 26-24 advantage at the break.
Out of the break, Cal State Fullerton took a six-point lead on a run capped off by a Chow jumper at the 18:46 mark, but Samantha Meggison cut the Titan lead in half with a three and the game would be a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way.
With the score at 34-30 in favor of the Titans, Fipps nailed a three, then Stephens gave the Aggies a brief lead with a layup before Butler answered with a jumper on the other end to put the Titans back up by one.
The teams would trade the lead until the 6:13 mark when, with the score tied at 44, Kelsey Beard stepped up and sank two huge three pointers. She nailed one from the left wing to put the Aggies up by three, then hit a trey from the top of the arc to extend UC Davis' lead by six, its largest of the game.
With 5:30 to play, UC Davis owned a 50-44 lead, but Chow singlehandedly kept the Titans in the game, scoring seven unanswered points to give Cal State Fullerton back a 51-50 advantage with 2:28 to go. Shinoda finally stopped Chow's run with a jumper in the paint, her first basket of the night, then Juric was fouled while going up for a layup. The basket counted and she completed the three-point lay for the 55-51 Aggie lead with just 1:19 on the clock.
Cal State Fullerton tied the game at 55 apiece with just 37 seconds on the clock after Chante Miles found a wide-open Alex Thomas for an easy layup, then Thomas was fouled by Juric while attempting a three-point shot. She hit two-of-three free throws.
With only 15 seconds left on the clock, Shinoda hit the gamewinner after driving down the lane, then sinking a turnaround jumper from six feet out to give UC Davis the 57-55 lead.
"Blair does a tremendous job getting to the rim and so I feel really comfortable putting the ball in her hands at the end of the game," said Gross. "I thought Blair could get a good look attacking the rim and she brought great focus and finished a tough shot."
Miles nearly topped Shinoda's shot when she got an open look at a three pointer, but the ball rattled in and out of the basket as the final buzzer sounded.
The Aggies shot 43 percent from the field and were 6-of-9 from three-point range.
UC Davis returns to the friendly confines of The Pavilion as the Aggies host UC Irvine on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m.