Aggies hope to strike gold at home, on the road

Teams: UC Davis at Long Beach State; vs. Hawai’i

Records: Aggies, 10-13 (5-5); 49ers, 13-11 (5-5); Rainbow Wahine, 12-10 (6-4)

Where: Walter Pyramid — Long Beach, Calif.; ARC Pavilion — Davis, Calif.

When: Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.

Who to watch:

Junior guard Kelsey Harris has been one of the key offensive threats for the Aggies as of late. She has passed the 10-point mark four times in the past five games, only barely missing the mark against Cal Poly on Jan. 30., with eight points.

The transfer from Iowa State has really found a home at UC Davis after sitting out the 2012-13 season due to transfer rules. Harris is averaging 11.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game this season and has been efficient in her scoring. Her 42.9 percent field goal shooting is fifth on the team, and her 40.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc is good enough for second on the team.

Harris’ ability to space the floor and provide constant scoring has been key for the Aggies this season, who have needed another consistent offensive option besides star junior forward Sydnee Fipps. Harris’ ability to take some of the scoring pressure off of Fipps will be critical if the Aggies have any hope of finishing the season well and going far in the Big West Conference playoffs.

Did you know?

Junior forward Sydnee Fipps scored 20 points on seven of 12 shooting from the field against Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 20. This marked the fourth consecutive game which Fipps has scored 20 points.

The 20-point game against the Titans allowed Fipps to move up on the UC Davis all-time scoring list, tying herself for 13th place. With six more regular season games this year, the Aggies hopes that they can ride Fipps’ hot hand to victory.

Preview:

After only playing one game last week, instead of the usual two, the Aggies should be well rested and ready to play against Long Beach State and Hawai’i.

However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows for UC Davis, as it is struggling to regain some momentum after suffering a tough 65-62 loss to Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 13, as well as a tough 79-73 overtime loss at the hands of UC Irvine only a few days earlier.

After starting off red-hot in conference play, soaring to a third-place standing, the now sixth-placed Aggies have cooled off considerably. Going 2-3 in the last five games, including losing two games in a row, has somewhat put a damper on the excellent play of Fipps as well as the emergence of players like Harris, sophomores forward Alyson Doherty and guard Molly Greubel.

The Long Beach State game will be a perfect opportunity for the Aggies to regain their mojo. After defeating the 49ers in a close 63-60 game at the ARC Pavilion on Jan. 11, UC Davis will need to take its talents on the road to secure a regular season sweep of the 49ers.

The 49ers are led by the scoring of guard Raven Benton, who is averaging 13.3 points per game, and the playmaking of guard Hallie Meneses, who is second in the Big West with 4.4 assists per game. Both Benton and Meneses struggled in the last meeting with the Aggies, as they only combined for 14 points on four of 14 shooting from the field as well as having eight turnovers in comparison to their two total assists. Hopefully, they struggle again on Feb. 20.

As for Hawai’i, the Aggies suffered a tough 64-50 loss to the Rainbow Wahine on Jan. 23. This matchup is a chance for UC Davis to gain a little bit of revenge. However, in order for the Aggies to get sweet payback, they will need to slow down star forward Kamilah Jackson. Jackson has led the Rainbow Wahine in points and rebounds for the past three seasons, and is once again accomplishing this feat with 15.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

The matchup between Jackson and Doherty will be key if the Aggies hope to get a win against a tough Hawai’i team and boost their stock as they head into the Big West tournament. The game will tip off on Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. in the Pavilion.

— Kenneth Ling

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