Nov. 23, 2012
HOUSTON - Cortney French scored a career-high 23 points in her season debut, leading three Aggies in double figures in scoring as the UC Davis women's basketball team claimed a thrilling 66-63 overtime victory over Navy on Friday in the first game of the Houston Baptist Husky Classic at Sharp Gymnasium in Houston.
UC Davis picked up its first victory over the year to move to 1-2 overall and broke Navy's two-game winning streak in the process. The Midshipmen move to 2-3 overall.
French's 23 points came on 8-of-11 shooting as the Aggie senior also tied a career-high with five three pointers. She also went 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
"Having Cortney back isn't just about the offensive productivity that she brings," said head coach Jennifer Gross. "She's the heart of our team. She and Blair (Shinoda) together do such a tremendous job of bringing energy and confidence. She's a leader and she showed that in every facet tonight."
Sydnee Fipps scored in double digits for the third consecutive game, putting up 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while freshman Celia Marfone earned her first double-digit scoring game of her career. She scored 10 points, shooting 4-of-7 from the field.
Down by as many as 10 points late in the second half, UC Davis rallied from the deficit to send the game to overtime, starting with a three from Fipps at the 4:38 mark of the second period. The Aggies used an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to pull to within two points after Marfone laid the ball in at the 1:31 mark.
On the other end of the ball, UC Davis' defense buckled down, holding Navy scoreless for over four minutes. Navy would not score a field goal in the final 5:09 of the second half.
"We had so many different players step up in different ways," said Gross. "Every single person got in the game and contributed. I told our team after that down the stretch, it happened to be a certain five tonight, but every night could change and everybody is going to be ready to contribute in their own ways. That's what makes this team so special. Honestly, every single person can get in there and make a difference and that's what we saw tonight. Different people are starting to feel comfortable in different roles and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can bring tomorrow."
Aniya Baker's layup with just 58 seconds left brought UC Davis to within one at 57-56. She finished with seven points.
Kara Pollinger hit two free throws for Navy with a mere 14 seconds to play, but it was answered by French who sank a three off a pass from Blair Shinoda to tie the game with only six seconds left in regulation. The Aggie defense buckled down and the teams headed to overtime.
All seven of UC Davis' overtime points came from the free throw line as the Aggies hit 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Marfone hit both of her attempts at the 3:46 mark as did Fipps with 3:09 left in overtime to put UC Davis up 63-59.
Geif, however, hit a free throw, then Audrey Bauer's three tied the game at 63 with 2:16 to play. That would be Navy's last field goal of the game as Shinoda took over at the free throw line for UC Davis, hitting 3-of-4 in the final 1:35 to send the Aggies to a 66-63 victory.
The lead changed nine times during the game and the Aggies and the Midshipmen were tied at four different points.
UC Davis took a 14-10 lead midway through the first half, then extended its lead to nine points after French's three with 6:24 left in the game.
Navy used a 13-2 run over the next four minutes, however, to climb back in and take a 30-28 lead after M.L. Morrison hit a three with 2:31 left to play. French stopped the run with a trey of her own, but Alex Membreno responded with a jumper in the paint before Pollinger's three at the buzzer gave Navy a 35-31 lead at halftime.
"In the first half, we struggled on the boards and they had a number of offensive rebounds," said Gross. "We talked about it at halftime and said defense doesn't stop when the shot goes up. We really buckled down defensively, we got more pressure on the ball and, most importantly, we really secured the rebounds in particular down the stretch."
Membreno and Geif each recorded a double-double for Navy as Geif scored 17, including the first 10 of the game for the Midshipmen, and had 12 boards and Membreno scored 13 to go with 15 rebounds. Pollinger had 16 points while Morrison had 11.
UC Davis faces tournament host Houston Baptist on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT.