While most students were at home filling their stomachs with holiday treats, the UC Davis women’s basketball team remained hard at work.
With just a few days off here and there, the lady Aggies continued to prepare for what remains to be a long season ahead. They took on five opponents this December and compiled a 3-2 record for the month.
While the season remains in its infant stages, the team inevitably grew a great deal together and produced some spectacular play on both sides of the court.
UC Davis kicked off the holiday season against the Broncos of Santa Clara earlier in the month, taking home an impressive win by a score of 70-59.
Sophomore forward Sydnee Fipps led all scorers with 19 points, but what brought home the win for the Aggies were the hours of hard work put in when no one was watching.
“The exciting thing about our team is that we analyze our games and if there is something that we struggle with in a game, we really emphasize it the next couple days in practice,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “We have shown that we can improve and correct our mistakes.”
The Aggies then moved on to the Women of Troy Classic. The team went on to defeat both Cal State Bakersfield as well as the host themselves, trouncing the Trojans 78-69 in perhaps their best game thus far.
“Our game against USC on their home court showed that we can play with anyone,” Gross said. “When we’re clicking and playing well, we’re really a tough team to beat.”
This marked the first meeting ever between these two teams and the Aggies took advantage, taking down an extremely well-known and respected Trojan program.
Fipps dropped 22 points of her own while senior shooting guard Cortney French matched her career best five buckets from beyond the arc, totaling 20 points on the night.
Freshman forward Alyson Doherty held things down on the defensive end, racking up seven rebounds and two steals in an effort that held the Trojans to a 36 percent field goal percentage on the night.
“The thing that our team has recognized as an area where we really need to be consistent is rebounding — defensive in particular,” Gross said. “That’s something that we have committed to improving every single day.”
Fipps and senior guard Blair Shinoda both earned All-Tournament team honors as the Aggies extended their winning streak to three.
However, the streak did not last, as the Aggies dropped their last two games of the month, the first being to the University of Washington.
UC Davis began the game still rolling from the adrenaline of their prior three wins. They walked into the locker room at halftime with a 29-27 lead and confidence that they would outlast the Huskies.
However, Washington found their stride early in the second half and sparked a 17-0 run that proved to be too steep for the Aggies.
The Aggies next traveled to Sacramento State, where they went on to lose a rivalry match that did not disappoint either side.
The Hornets held the lead early in the game, taking a six-point lead into halftime. However, the Aggies responded quickly out of the locker room and retook the lead within the first few minutes of the second half.
The teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the game time, eventually continuing the battle into overtime. However, a last minute layup by the Hornets spoiled the night and gave Sac State the 66-65 victory.
“There’s some games where you just feel bad after a loss; this wasn’t one of them,” Gross said. “I thought we did a lot of things well and we took some big strides in a lot of areas that we had been focusing on during the week.”
Fipps asserted herself as a primary threat for this Aggie squad, ranking among the top UC Davis scorers in nearly every match-up.
French continued her consistent sharp shooting displays, while Doherty continued to display defensive prowess.
The Aggies will continue with their conference play against Cal Poly this Thursday. They are 0-1 thus far in the Big West after dropping their conference opener to the University of Pacific 78-64, on Jan. 5.
PK HATTIS can be reached at email@example.com.