March 15, 2012
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Cortney French hit four three-pointers while Brianna Salvatore added in eight points, but the UC Davis women's basketball team fell 66-48 to Oregon State in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Thursday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
UC Davis finishes the 2011-12 season at 17-13 as the Aggies advanced to their third straight postseason appearance and fourth overall in just five years as a Div. I program.
"As much as we would love to keep playing, I am very proud of our efforts this year," said head coach Jennifer Gross. "We had some really remarkable wins and a lot of great moments that we can take with us. I really enjoyed coaching this team - this group of players stayed together all year and exemplified Aggie Pride."
French was 4-of-6 from three-point range to lead the Aggies with 12 points. Hannah Stephens added seven points, four assists and three steals, while Salvatore's eight points came on 3-of-3 shooting. She hit both of her attempts from long range.
"We have some younger players that stepped up huge for us towards the end of the season," continued Gross. "These players got some great experience and are hungry for more. Earning a spot in the postseason feels good, but our goals are set higher. If we continue to do things the right way and build our team first, I have no doubt that we will achieve some special things with our program."
Oregon State built an early 16-6 lead, using the height of 6-foot-4 Patricia Bright and 6-foot-7 Thais Pinto to score 12 of its first 16 points in the paint. The Beavers would outscore UC Davis 40-0 in the paint.
The Aggies responded by scoring six straight from three-point range as Sydnee Fipps brought the score to 19-18 with 4:47 left in the first half with her baseline trey. Salvatore scored UC Davis' first shot from inside the arc, hitting a 10-foot jumper to give UC Davis its only lead of the game at 20-19 with 2:46 to go.
Out of halftime, the Beavers extended their 23-20 lead with a 10-1 run to go up 33-21 with 15:37 to go. Idit Oryon stopped the Aggies' scoring drought when she was fouled on a baseline jumper, then hit the free throw to complete the three-point play and bring UC Davis to within nine.
Oregon State continued to find its shot, hitting 62.1 percent from the field in the second half and 4-of-8 from three-point range. By the 4:54 mark, Oregon State owned a 24-point lead.
UC Davis closed the half on a 14-8 run as Oregon State took the 66-48 win.
The 2011-12 season saw UC Davis reach the postseason for the third consecutive year while Samantha Meggison and Stephens were each honored by the Big West Conference. Meggison earned first-team accolades for the first time in her career while Stephens was an honorable mention selection.
"We've had some special players in our program that have helped take this team to the next level," said Gross. "When we transitioned to Division I, we recruited players to move this program forward and achieve certain milestones and they've done just that."
The Aggies' four seniors - Hana Asano, Lauren Juric, Meggison and Kasey Riecks - will leave having played virtually every game of their UC Davis careers. The quartet has written their names in the Aggie record books, with each of the four appearing on various all-time career lists.