Feb. 21, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. -
Sophomore Sydnee Fipps scored a game-high 27 points on Thursday, including 10 during a key 13-2 run midway in the second half, as UC Davis picked up a crucial 70-56 Big West Conference women's basketball win over UC Riverside at The Pavilion.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Aggies while giving them their second straight home win. Senior Cortney French drained a trio of three-pointers and finished with 13 points while freshman Aniya Baker had a game-high tying four steals. Brittany Crain led three Highlanders in double figures, scoring 18 points while completing a double-double with 11 rebounds.
The win was a big one for UC Davis which entered the week in seventh place, a half-game in front of UC Riverside as both teams try to hold off ninth-place UC Irvine and 10th-place Cal State Fullerton for the final two Big West Tournament berths. The Aggies are 11-15 overall and 6-8 in the conference after Thursday's win while the Highlanders fell to 11-13 over and 4-9 in the Big West. UC Davis swept the season series from UC Riverside.
"At this point in the season we know that every game is a big one," said UC Davis head coach Jennifer Gross. "Everybody's fighting for those playoff spots and seeds. For us, there was definitely a very high level of urgency in the locker room, but there was also a confidence to our team that I was really excited about.
"We're kind of looking at these last five games as little mini-season leading into the playoffs," she added. "We feel good about the performance we had tonight and we're excited to see where we can go."
Fipps was a big part of UC Davis picking up the win, hitting 9 of 16 shots, including a pair of treys, while also going 7 for 9 at the line. Her 27 points were just two shy of her career-high 29 she scored against Long Beach State in January and marked her seventh game with at least 20 points this season. Fipps had 19 points in the second half, helping the Aggies pull away from the Highlanders after going into intermission with a slim 27-23 lead.
Tre'Shonti Nottingham gave UC Riverside a 40-39 lead with 12 minutes, 47 seconds left in the second half lead Fipps scored 10 of the Aggies' next 13 points as they built a 52-42 lead with 9:30 remaining. Included were a three-pointer and two layups, including a reverse layup that put UC Davis up 48-40. Her three-pointer capped the surge and put UC Davis up by 10 points.
Two free throws from Crain got the Highlanders back to within 52-45 but the Aggies were able to extend the lead to as many as 16 points down the stretch.
UC Davis used solid defense to help hold off UC Riverside, holding the Highlanders to just 29.8 percent from the floor, including only 13.3 percent (2 of 15) from beyond the arc. UC Riverside shot just 25 percent (7 of 28) in the first half.
"I think we're getting better and better each day, defensively," Fipps said.
The teams played a close first half with UC Davis going up 17-12 before the Highlanders battled back to forge a 17-17 tie, the first of three ties in the opening 20 minutes. However, the Aggies scored six of the half's final eight points to go into the break with a 27-23 lead.
A 35-35 deadlock four minutes into the second half was the last tie of the game while Nottingham's bucket gave UC Riverside its last lead, 40-39.
Fipps had a team-high seven rebounds while Baker added a team-best three assists to her four steals. UC Davis also continued a solid season from the free throw line, canning 14 of 17 (.824).
Nottingham added 13 points for UC Riverside while Natasha Hadley finished with 10. Crain was strong on the offensive glass, grabbing seven of her 11 boards on that end. The Highlanders outrebounded UC Davis 42-34.
The Aggies will try and take another step closer to clinching a Big West Tournament berth when they host Cal State Fullerton at 4 p.m. Saturday. The game will follow the Aggie men's ESPN Bracketbuster matchup against Northern Colorado that starts at 1:30.