March 1, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - Samantha Meggison scored 15 points, freshman Sydnee Fipps grabbed a career-high eight rebounds and Lauren Juric tied a career-high with four blocks as the UC Davis women's basketball team outlasted Cal Poly for a 65-61 win on Thursday at The Pavilion.
UC Davis snapped Cal Poly's nine-game winning streak and improves to 17-10 overall and 9-6 in Big West Conference play. Cal Poly moves to 15-13 on the year and 11-4 in league action.
UC Davis remains tied for third place in the Big West Conference standings with Pacific, which defeated UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, with the Aggies owning the tiebreaker over the Tigers. UC Irvine is in fifth with an 8-7 record.
An Aggie win over UC Santa Barbara, which comes to The Pavilion on Saturday, would guarantee a top-four seed and would clinch home-court advantage for a Big West Tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday, Mar. 6.
If the Aggies were to lose, however, Pacific would also need to lose in order for UC Davis to host the quarterfinal game. A UC Davis loss and a Pacific win would drop the Aggies to fifth and UC Irvine would become the No. 4 seed.
Cal Poly jumped out to a 14-5 lead after Ashlee Burns hit a three-point shot from halfway in between the three point line and half court. By the 11:10 mark of the first half, the Mustangs were shooting 61 percent from the field and were 3-of-3 from beyond the arc to take a 21-12 lead.
"Teams are going to bring it for the first couple of minutes and that's going to establish the tone for the game," said head coach Jennifer Gross. "They came out and struck first but we kept our composure really nicely and, possession by possession, we battled back and all of a sudden we were right back in the game. We feel like when we're right it, we have a great chance to win down the stretch."
But the Aggies would come surging back, using a 12-1 run to tie the game at 22. Meggison, Kasey Riecks and Juric each had layups, then UC Davis went 4-of-4 from the free throw line to cap off the line. Meanwhile, the UC Davis defense held Cal Poly nearly scoreless, allowing just one Mustang point in six minutes.
Ariana Elegado stopped the Aggie run with a jumper for Cal Poly and the closing minutes would be a battle until the final 30 seconds of the half, when UC Davis turned three Mustang turnovers into six points.
Trailing 33-30, Hana Asano picked off a steal, then dished the ball to Blair Shinoda, who outsprinted two Cal Poly defenders to lay the ball in with 32 seconds left in the half. Asano forced another turnover, then took the ball in herself for a layup, giving UC Davis a 34-33 lead with just eight seconds to play. On the inbounds pass, Hannah Stephens picked off a pass, then found the basket as the halftime buzzer sounded to give UC Davis a 36-33 advantage.
"It was really about committing to the defensive side of the ball tonight, and I was really pleased with our effort there," said Gross. "There were times where we really needed stops and we came up big. It was different lineups and different times in the game where somebody stepped up and I was really proud of our effort defensively."
Cal Poly opened the second half on an 8-0 run, but Stephens hit a three at the 16:10 mark to stop the Mustang scoring streak and keep UC Davis within two points. Elegado answered with a trey of her own and Cal Poly was back on top by five at 44-39.
Cortney French put UC Davis back in front with five straight points. She hit a baseline three to tie the game at 44, then sank a turnaround hook shot in the lane to put the Aggies up with 10:29 to go.
Fipps added to the Aggie run with a three of her own, Shinoda and Riecks added in another four points and UC Davis had its largest lead of the game at 53-44 with 8:55 to play.
Again, Cal Poly surged back, using a 12-2 run to take a 56-55 lead after Christine Martin hit back-to-back treys with 3:52 left in the game. And again, Fipps had the answer, sinking a trey, to give UC Davis a 58-56 lead with 3:31 left. The Aggies would not relinquish the lead.
"Sydnee is very confident, and she does the things that we need her to do," said Gross. "She steps up and hits big shots, she's really steady out there, and she really brings a lot of effort to both sides of the ball."
Fipps then grabbed a defensive rebound which Riecks would turn into a three-pointer of her own, and Meggison would score four straight points in the final 35 seconds of the game to seal the 65-61 win.
Burns led all scorers with 15 points, hitting 4-of-8 from three-point range, and nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds. Elegado had 12 while Martin finished with 10 points.
Saturday's match up with UC Santa Barbara tips off at 2 p.m.
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