March 9, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - Sydnee Fipps scored 18 points and freshman Molly Greubel added 16 but Pacific used 18 from guard Gena Johnson, pulling away down the stretch to beat UC Davis 59-54 in a Big West Conference women's basketball game at The Pavilion on Saturday.
UC Davis ended the regular season with a 12-17 overall record and a 7-11 mark in the Big West. The Tigers won their fifth straight, improving to 24-6 overall and 14-4 in league. Pacific's win, combined with Cal Poly's loss to Long Beach State, gave the Tigers the outright Big West title.
Both teams advance to next week's Big West Tournament which begins Tuesday at UC Irvine. The Aggies are the seventh seed and will face sixth-seeded Cal State Northridge 30 minutes following Tuesday's opener between fifth-seeded Long Beach State and eighth-seeded Cal State Fullerton which begins at 6 p.m.
The survivors of the first two rounds at UC Irvine will meet top-seeded Pacific and second-seeded Cal Poly at Honda Center in Anaheim in the semifinals.
UC Davis prepared for the postseason with a solid effort against first-place Pacific, leading by as many as eight points in the first half before going into halftime tied 32-32. The Aggies led 45-43 with 8 minutes, 56 seconds left in the second half but the Tigers responded with an 8-0 run to take a 51-45 lead nearly three minutes later. The Aggies got to within four points twice the rest of the way but couldn't pull closer.
"Obviously, we're a little disappointed with the outcome of the game but I felt really good about our team's performance," said Aggie coach Jennifer Gross. "We played one of the most solid defensive games we've played all year and that's exciting heading into our conference tournament where it's going to take defense to get it done."
The Aggies held the Tigers to 33.3 percent shooting, including 20 percent (5 for 20) from beyond the arc. UC Davis also did a solid job on the boards in the second half, matching the Tigers 16-16.
UC Davis used a strong start to take an 11-4 lead, scoring seven straight points and capping the early surge with Greubel's three-pointer. A trey from junior Idit Oryon eight minutes into the game built the lead to 16-8 but the Tigers responded with nine straight points, six of them by Kendall Rodriguez who had a three-pointer and a three-point play.
The teams were tied five more times the rest of the way, going into the break knotted 32-all. Neither team was able to forge a sizeable lead for the first 11 minutes of the second half before Pacific used its final rally to get separation and hold on for the win.
Fipps was a perfect 5 for 5 from the line as part of her 18 points while also adding two blocks and two steals. Greubel had a pair of three-pointers and pitched in with four rebounds.
Rodriguez added 16 points for Pacific while McKenzie finished with 10.
The Aggies will now turn their attention to the Big West Tournament, looking to win the conference title and accompanying NCAA Tournament berth for the second time. UC Davis capture the championship in 2011. The Aggies split their two games with Cal State Northridge this season, winning at home 61-46 in January before losing at Northridge 51-49 last month.