Nov. 19, 2004
USAFA, Colo - Domonique Thomas' free throw with four-tenths of a second remaining Friday was the game-winner as Louisiana-Lafayette edged UC Davis for a 73-72 come-from-behind win in the first round of the Radisson Inn Classic, hosted by Air Force at Clune Arena.
The season-opening loss sends UC Davis against the host Falcons in Saturday morning's consolation matchup. Montana State beat Air Force 74-73 in overtime and will face La.-Lafayette for the tournament championship.
UC Davis, which led by as many as 15 points in the first half, trailed 72-70 with 14 seconds left in the second after Thomas made one of two free throws. The Aggies worked the clock until Kimberly Smith banked in a runner that tied the score with three seconds left. However, Thomas was fouled by Lara Gray as Thomas raced up the sideline on the ensuing inbounds pass and converted the first of two free throws for the final margin.
UC Davis is playing its first NCAA Division I schedule in program history, a requirement as part of the Aggies' second of four years of transition.
UC Davis had its starting five each score in double figures on Friday, including junior Lara Gray who posted a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and junior Jessica Campbell who had 10 points and 11 boards. Guard Jackie Turpin had a team-best 17 points, Smith had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Ellen Porshneva scored 12 points.
Alexandra Kotta scored a game-high 22 points for La.-Lafayette,
despite hitting just two of 12 three-point attempts, while center
Anna Petrakova had 15 points. The Ragin' Cajuns shot just 37 percent
(29 of 79) from the field and were only 22 percent (8 of 36) from
three-point territory but benfitted from 25 Aggie turnovers, including
17 in the second half. The Aggies held an impressive 49-32 advantage
on the boards.
UC Davis controlled the game much of the way, jumping to a 10-0 lead less than three minutes in, thanks to a three-point play and a layup from Gray and a three-pointer from Smith. A pair of free throws by Turpin gave the Aggies a 15-point lead at 22-7 with 11:39 to go in the first half. It was their biggest lead of the half, a margin the Aggies matched four times in the second, including a 54-39 lead with 12:04 to go.
"We came out and obviously played a very good first half defensively," said UC Davis coach Sandy Simpson. "We pretty much did what we wanted in the first half. We followed the game plan. In the second half, they made a couple of charges and were kind of able to hold them off... At the 10-minute mark they turned up the pressure a little bit. I think fatigue hurt us a little bit and we hit a little bit of a wall.
"We made some turnovers that I would say are as much fatigue-oriented as anything else and that led to some easy baskets by them," he added.
A three-pointer by Bernette Tolston with 4:45 remaining gave the Ragin' Cajuns their first lead of the game at 60-58, a basket that was quickly answered by Amy Glassman whose trey gave the lead right back to UC Davis. The lead changed hands five times in the final five minutes and was tied three times.
"What we told the team is we have to find a way to close out games," said Simpson. "When you have a lead like that (15 points) you can't let a team back in."
Despite the disappointing loss, Simpson saw a lot of positives for his team which features no seniors and 10 underclassmen.
"We were playing with a lot of poise early on, Kim Smith hit a couple of threes early, we played terrific defensively and we got that early lead," he said. "And we pretty much maintained that throughout the half."
"The bottom line is, the final 10 minutes kind of wash away the first 30 and we have to understand we played at a good Division I level for 30 minutes," he said. "And now our challenge is how do we make that 34 minutes, and then 36, and then finally 40 minutes where we close it out."
Tipoff on Saturday is 10 a.m. (Pacific time)