Dec. 5, 2013
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Facing their second top-five opponent of the season in front of a crowd of more than 8,000 on Thursday night, the UC Davis women's basketball team held an early lead against the top-ranked team in the country, but defending NCAA champion Connecticut had too many weapons, pulling away for a, 97-37, win at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
"We went into this game with one mission, and that was to give them our best effort for 40 minutes and see where we measured up with that," Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. "We've got to be able to step on the floor every night and play 40 minutes of our best basketball. I think we showed a lot of focus and intensity for the first part of that game. We did some things right, then we turned the ball over which turned to direct baskets and eight or 10 points in a row. It's hard to come back."
Juniors Sydnee Fipps finished with a team-high 13 points -- her sixth consecutive game with double-digit points -- and a team-high six rebounds, but got in early foul trouble which limited her effectiveness. Junior Kelsey Harris added a quartet of three-pointers to finish with 12 points to go with five rebounds and three assists for the Aggies (2-5 overall), who came out inspired to score the first point of the game and held a lead following four straight points by Fipps.
However, a 9-0 run by the Huskies (10-0) spelled the beginning of the end as they ran out to an eight-point lead and they never looked back. Bria Hartley led all scorers with 25 points in 25 minutes, hitting 8-of-9 from the field to lead four teammates in double figures. Breanna Stewart also added a double-double of 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
"I thought Sydnee was really tremendous to start the game," Gross said. "She got into a little foul trouble, which hurt us. It's tough to score in the paint against a team like UConn. She found ways to split into gaps and protected the ball really well and used different sides of the basket to score. I was really impressed with her early. I was disappointed when she got into foul trouble."
Sophomore Heidi Johnson nailed a three-pointer to end a 9-0 run by Connecticut to start the second half and, later, a 10-3 run gave the Aggies energy as Fipps scored four points while Harris and freshman Brianne Yasukochi added three-pointers during the burst.
"I think, first of all, you go into a game like this to see how you measure up against the best," Gross said. "I think we learned that we have some work to do. What I was pleased with was that we stepped on the floor and we weren't afraid. We stepped on the floor ready to compete, which I was pleased with. What I think we are taking from it is, you have to maintain that level of focus and intensity for the whole game if you're going to compete at this level."
Harris, one of the Big West Conference's leaders in three-point percentage, continued her torrid shooting from beyond the arc, hitting 4-of-9 against the Huskies and shooting 16-of-30 (.533) from long distance over her last four games. Of her 26 makes this season, 22 have come via the three-point basket.
UC Davis closes out its East Coast swing on Saturday (Dec. 7) at 10 a.m. (PT) as the Aggies take on Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y.