As a former player, UC Davis women’s basketball coach Jennifer Gross remembers how special it was to play conference basketball doubleheaders with the men’s team at Recreation Hall, now known as the Pavilion.
“It was such an electric atmosphere,” said the Aggies’ Hall of Fame point guard.
Even playing modest Division II teams such as San Francisco State and Cal Poly Pomona, the Aggies regularly drew crowds larger than in the D-I era by playing back-to-back on the same night.
During their last year in Division II in 2003-04, a “Break the Record Night” doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield drew a crowd of 6,588. The all-time attendance mark of 7,926 was set in 1999 against Chico State.
Other than a handful of exceptions, that format largely ceased when the Aggies moved into the D-I Big West Conference in 2004-05.
This season the Aggies are playing four conference doubleheaders, starting Thursday night at the Pavilion.
The UCD women (9-6, 2-0) will face UC Irvine (3-13, 0-2) at 5:30 p.m. and the Aggie men (5-10, 0-2) take on Cal State Northridge (6-10, 1-1) at 7:30.
“I’m excited about it,” said UCD men’s coach Jim Les. “I know our fans and season tickets holders have liked it when we’ve done it in the past.
“It gives us a chance to support Jen’s program – she does a great job – and likewise, it gives them a chance to see our games and support us. We think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
The remaining doubleheaders are Jan. 30, Feb. 13 and Feb. 27 at the Pavilion. The Aggie men and women opened the season with a nonconference doubleheader. The men played North Dakota State before the Aggie women faced Stanford in the nightcap. The two games drew a crowd of 3,366.
The UCD women hope to build on a strong start in which the Aggies beat defending Big West tournament champion Northridge 75-52 on the road Jan. 7 and then topped defending regular-season champion Hawaii 60-58 on Saturday at the Pavilion. The Aggies trailed by as many as 11 points with 1:34 to play in the third quarter before coming back to beat the Rainbow Wahine.
While the women are atop the Big West standings, the men are in last place after road losses at UC Irvine and Long Beach State.
The Aggies, who shot 40 percent from the field against Long Beach State and 30 percent against UC Irvine, have seen a dramatic drop in offensive efficiency this season from last season’s 25-7 squad.
UCD led the nation in three-point shooting at 44.7 percent and its 49 percent from the field ranked fourth overall. This season, UCD is 136th in shooting percentage (44.7) and 169th in three-point shooting at 34.5.
M.A.S.H.-unit Hornets – After a healthy and successful season last year, injuries have hampered the Sacramento State men’s team in 2015-16, with co-captains Cody Demps and Nick Hornsby sitting rather than playing.
Hornsby, a junior forward, missed the Big Sky Conference opener at Portland State with a groin injury, and Demps, a senior guard, was only played eight minutes against the Vikings because of a quad injury.
While Hornsby returned to play at Montana State and Montana, Demps sat out as the Hornets lost all three of their conference road games. Demps had played in 104 consecutive games for the Hornets.
Though Demps remains questionable, the Hornets (7-7, 0-3) hope to dig out of the Big Sky cellar during a three-game home stand that starts Thursday night against Idaho State (6-9, 1-2).
Big Sky behemoth Weber State (11-5, 3-0) and 6-foot-9 NBA prospect Joel Bolomboy come to The Nest on Saturday. Bolomboy ranks No. 3 nationally in D-I rebounds with 220, averaging 13.8 per game. He is 30 shy of the all-time Big Sky career record of 1,147 rebounds.
The Hornets are 5-1 this season at The Nest and were the only Big Sky team last season to go undefeated in conference play (9-0) at home.
Milestone or millstone? – History doesn’t favor Sac State as women’s coach Bunky Harkleroad goes for his 300th college coaching win Thursday night at Idaho State (7-7, 0-3).
Sac State (5-9, 2-1) is 0-19 in games played against the Bengals in Pocatello.
The Hornets, who also play at Weber State (10-4, 2-1) on Saturday, lead all NCAA D-I women’s teams in three-pointers (11.9), steals (15.9), offensive rebounds (21.0), forced turnovers (27.0) and turnover margin (14.14) per game.
They rank second behind No. 1 Connecticut in scoring 87.3 points per game.