UC Davis has a little extra incentive entering Tuesday night’s Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament opener against UC Santa Barbara at Long Beach State.
If the Aggies beat the Gauchos for the third time this season, they’ll earn a rematch Wednesday against UC Irvine. The Anteaters beat the Aggies for the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye with a 68-55 victory in a regular-season finale last Saturday at UC Davis.
The loss snapped UCD’s four-game winning streak and left the fifth-seeded Aggies (14-15, 9-7) short of their goal of beating all eight Big West rivals at least once this season.
The Anteaters (16-14, 9-7) were the only team to beat the Aggies twice in conference play, having also topped them 79-73 in overtime on Feb. 8 at UC Irvine.
UC Davis had a horrendous performance from three-point range last Saturday, making only 5 of 29 attempts, and shot 38 percent from the field. UC Irvine’s active zone also held UC Davis star forward Sydnee Fipps to a season-low five points. UCD guard Kelsey Harris, among the NCAA’s top three-point scorers, made just 2 of 10 attempts from long range and finished with six points.
While center Alyson Doherty scored 20 points and forward Celia Marfone scored 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, it wasn’t enough to counter the Aggies’ overall shooting woes as they finished the season with a 7-6 home record.
“We did a nice job getting the ball inside,” UC Davis coach Jennifer Gross said. “But you’ve got to have both the inside and outside attack, especially if a team is going to zone you. For us to shoot 17 percent from three-point range is just abnormal.”
Although UC Irvine is on the Aggies’ radar, Gross insists her team won’t look past eighth-seeded UC Santa Barbara (8-21, 3-13), which the Aggies beat 65-47 in Santa Barbara on March 1 and 82-70 at home Feb. 1. The Gauchos, who have won a Big West-leading 14 tournament championships, have struggled this season in landing the No. 8 and final tournament seed.
“Going into the tournament, it’s a whole new game,” Gross said. “Everybody is hungry and out for blood. Nobody wants their season to end.”
But with UC Davis having won at Big West regular-season champion Cal State Northridge and second-place Cal Poly, and having beaten third-place Hawaii in Davis, Gross feels good about her team’s chances.
“We’re confident,” Gross said. “If each and every one of our players contribute the way we think they can, we can do some special things this week.”
Farewell for Oryon – In playing her last two games at the Pavilion, reserve senior forward Idit Oryon got a special treat.
She played in front of her mother, Edna, and brother Barak, who flew from Israel to watch her compete.
“It’s been so nice to have them around,” said Oryon, who combined for 16 points and three rebounds in the two games. “It’s the first time they watched me play college basketball. ... It was amazing to have them watching, here with me and being able to hug them after the games.”
Fipps, Doherty honored – Monday, Fipps was named to the All-Big West Conference first team for the second consecutive season. Doherty, an all-freshman team selection last season, earned second-team honors this year.
Fipps ranks among the Big West’s top 10 in five offensive categories, including No. 3 in scoring at 17.8 points per game. Doherty leads the conference in field-goal percentage (.557) and is ninth in rebounding (6.3) and 14th in scoring (13.1).
Hawkins honored – Junior guard Corey Hawkins was named to the All-Big West men’s basketball second team.
Hawkins averaged 18.0 points and 4.5 rebounds, led the Aggies in steals (44) and was second in assists (89). UC Davis finished 9-22 overall and 4-12 in the Big West. By finishing last in the Big West, the Aggies failed to make the conference tournament.
Two area players, junior forward Will Davis II (Sacramento High School) from conference champion UC Irvine and sophomore guard Michael Bryson (Foothill) from runner-up UC Santa Barbara, made honorable mention.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.