March 6, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - Cortney French and Kasey Riecks each had 11 points and the UC Davis women's basketball team pulled to within six with under four minutes to play, but Pacific held off the late Aggie surge to claim a 59-51 victory in the Big West Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday at The Pavilion in Davis.
UC Davis, seeded fourth in the tournament, ends its season with an overall record of 17-12 and a Big West record of 9-8. Pacific, the fifth seed, advances to the semifinals at the Honda Center in Anaheim with an overall record of 17-12 and a 10-7 Big West record.
"First of all, I'd like to give Pacific credit. They came to play," said UC Davis head coach Jennifer Gross. "They played very, very well and we wish them the best of luck in the tournament.
"I just couldn't be more proud of our team. We had a run of bad luck in the first half and got ourselves down, but we battled and battled. We could have used just a few more breaks and we just didn't get them. I've never been around a more amazing group of young women."
UC Davis scored just four field goals in the first half, as Riecks, French and Samantha Meggison accounted for the lone Aggie baskets during the period. Riecks hit a three at the 17:50 mark for UC Davis' first bucket of the game, but the Aggies would remain scoreless until a three from French at the 14:54 mark.
The Aggie drought continued, however, with the next UC Davis score not coming until the 7:11 mark when Riecks hit a free throw. By then, Pacific owned a 17-7 lead and would go up 23-7 until Meggison's layup with just under three minutes to play.
Pacific took a 26-13 lead into the locker room at half time, but the Tigers shot just 33 percent from the field and committed nine turnovers.
"Our defense really got it done," said Gross. "We just struggled to get our flow offensively and turned the ball over a little too much. We weren't knocking down our shots early on and that created that gap for us. We made an adjustment, we just had to pick everything up a little faster, and we started playing a lot better. From that point on, it was a very even ball game."
Asano cut the Pacific lead to single digits with a layup early in the second half, but the Tigers scored seven straight points to regain a 34-19 lead with 17:40 to play. A Brianna Johnson free throw with 13:07 to play gave Pacific its largest lead of the game at 42-25.
Asano got UC Davis back on track again with a three at the 10:02 mark, then French kept the momentum going with her second trey of the night to cut Pacific's lead to 44-35. Erica McKenzie, however, tossed up a three of her own on Pacific's next possession and it banked in to give the Tigers back a 12-point advantage.
The Aggies scored three unanswered baskets and trailed 47-41 with 3:42 to go, but Pacific held them from getting any closer. Meggison and French each hit treys down the stretch, but the Tigers closed the game on free throws for the 59-51 win.
French also added a career-high eight rebounds and shot 3-of-4 from three-point range. Meggison finished with nine points and eight rebounds Blair Shinoda dished out four assists.
Pacific's Gena Johnson led all scorers with 17 points while Kendall Rodriguez recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Erica McKenzie had five assists and four steals.
The game brought to a close the outstanding careers of UC Davis' four seniors Asano, Lauren Juric, Meggison and Riecks. who each leave with their names written in the Aggie record books. Asano is in the all-time top 10 for careers and assists while Juric is seventh all-time in career blocks. Riecks became the 15th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points earlier in the season, while Tuesday's game marked the 122nd of Meggison's career, making her the all-time leader in games played.