UC Davis sophomore Lauren Beyer has given the Aggies a huge emotional boost this season, not to mention a heady backup forward.
The former Bradshaw Christian star overcame a horrific right-leg injury two games into her collegiate career to become a contributor this season.
Against San Jose State in November 2011, Beyer’s leg buckled as she chased a rebound. She suffered ACL, MCL and meniscus tears in her knee; a broken tibia and torn tendons in her ankle.
It was feared that she might never play again. But the 6-foot-1 Beyer, who redshirted the 2012-13 season, kept plugging away through multiple surgeries and hours of grueling physical therapy.
She has played in 14 of 15 games, averaging 2.2 points, 1.4 rebounds and 10 minutes as a defensive stalwart for the Aggies (6-9, 1-1 Big West Conference) while wearing a brace that runs from her ankle to her thigh.
One of Beyer’s best games came in the Aggies’ 84-78 loss to Sacramento State on Dec. 28. She played 19 minutes and had eight points and two blocked shots in helping the Aggies stay close until the final minutes.
Saturday she had three assists in 10 minutes in UC Davis’ 63-60 conference win over Long Beach State at the Pavilion.
“She’s super inspiring,” said UC Davis star Sydnee Fipps, Beyer’s roommate. “It’s amazing how hard she has worked to get back on the basketball court.”
Fipps suffered an ACL injury in high school, so she understands what her friend had to endure.
“Just through her example, it’s made me want to work even harder and take advantage of the time we have as players,” Fipps said. “You just never know when it all might be taken away.”
UC Davis coach Jennifer Gross credited Beyer with an assist last season, even as she was still rehabilitating.
Gross said Beyer helped keep Fipps grounded as she sometimes worked through the frustrations of leading a young and struggling team.
“They’ve been really good for each other,” Gross said.
Hornets get road win – Sac State men’s coach Brian Katz had no inkling the Hornets (5-8, 1-3) would produce their most one-sided road win of the program’s Division I era – dating to 1991 – in a 77-49 Big Sky Conference win over Southern Utah on Saturday in Cedar City, Utah.
“I tell my guys that if you win on the road, it’s an upset in this conference,” Katz said. “You look at the travel, the altitude, the fans. We played so well from start to finish that (Southern Utah) was never able to get the crowd behind it.”
The victory was the last of four road games to start conference play for the Hornets. Big Sky teams are 5-17 in conference road games so far.
Sac State plays six of its next eight games at The Nest, including Portland State (6-7, 1-3) tonight. The Vikings are coming off an impressive 81-78 triple-overtime win
over defending Big Sky champion Montana on Saturday.
Heating up – With nine more 3-pointers in road losses to Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State last week, UC Davis men’s senior guard Ryan Sypkens has a shot at becoming the Big West’s all-time best from long distance.
Spykens, who had made 31 of his 58 3-pointers in the last six games, has 278. Pacific’s Adam Jacobsen (1993-97) holds the record of 311.
But Saturday at Long Beach State, Sypkens’ 21 points, including six 3s, weren’t nearly enough for the Aggies (5-12, 0-2) against the three-time defending Big West champs.
The 49ers, who opened the second half with an incredible 30-0 run, beat the Aggies 99-74 two days after falling to preseason favorite UC Irvine 46-44 at home. Long Beach State’s home conference winning streak ended at 26 games.
UC Davis begins a three-game Big West homestand tonight against UC Riverside (5-11, 0-2), a team the Aggies swept last season. Saturday, the host Highlanders fell 72-52 to UC Irvine.
Hilliard on prestigious list – Sac State junior Fantasia Hilliard is one of 29 players on the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given annually to the nation’s top Division I point guard.
Hilliard ranks fifth nationally with 7.2 assists per game while averaging 13.4 points for the 11-2 Hornets. She is second in career assists for Sac State with 428 and closing in on the record of 453 set by Heather Baker from 1989 to 1993.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.