Home for the holidays. Ahhhhhhhh…
Playing their first basketball game at The Pavilion since Nov. 26, the Aggie women outlasted visiting Houston Baptist, 63-58, in overtime on Saturday.
Despite being outrebounded, outshot and missing 20-of-27 3-point attempts, UC Davis followed the leads of forwards Sydnee Fipps and Heidi Johnson to win its second game of the week.
The Aggies — again without starting post Alyson Doherty (illness) and forward Celia Marfone (leg) — are now 4-7, while the Huskies fell to 3-7.
With Big West Conference play starting early next month, Fipps is in mid-season form, having scored 23 points Saturday to lead all scorers.
Fipps talked about the Aggie future …
“We’ve definitely had to pick it up,” the junior from Mariposa told The Enterprise. “We recognize without (Doherty and Marfone) there’s a heightened sense of urgency.”
Johnson, a sophomore from Buchanan (Clovis) High, scored 15 points for the second straight outing. She added nine rebounds — five of which were on offense — and hit 8-of-10 free throws, all in the second half.
“She got it done from the line, late, when the pressure was on,” Aggie coach Jennifer Gross pointed out. “She really seized the opportunity. We need her. She’s always been so capable — and now she’s getting confidence.”
Gross says it’s exciting that when Marfone and Doherty re-emerge, UCD will “have a lot of depth at the inside position.”
In a first half that saw the game tied or lead changes seven times, the Huskies took a 28-26 advantage into the break.
HBC hit 50 percent of its shots in those initial 20 minutes and finished with 45 percent for the afternoon.
But in this case, statistics were head-scratching.
The Aggies shot only 29.3 percent. The Huskies had 14 steals to just six for the Aggies. UCD suffered 22 turnovers and had but 11 assists to 15 for their guests.
At one point in the first half, the Aggies went 5:24 without scoring. They couldn’t buy a basket in the final two minutes of regulation. Still, UCD prevailed.
It was the Aggies hitting 22-of-26 free throws (Houston Baptist converted its only charity toss of the game) and forcing the Huskies to labor from beyond the arc. HBC was 1-of-13 on trey attempts.
During the nip-and-tuck — if not erratic — flow of the game, things stayed close most of the way.
UCD opened a 10-2 lead before missing its next eight shots (mixed in among six turnovers). Houston Baptist’s biggest margin was 23-19 just before halftime.
The game stayed hand-wringingly close for the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Then, finally, in overtime, the Aggies went ahead to stay.
They got two Fipps layups and a Johnson free throw to lead, 57-52.
Twice, the Huskies closed to within a point before Molly Greubel’s four straight free throws closed out the final 23 seconds.
Throughout the game, it was a different woman contributing in a different fashion.
Freshman Brianne Yasukochi sparked several Aggie assaults. The guard from Oceanside forced a turnover, grabbed a rebound and dished out three assists.
Brianna Salvatore nailed a big trey and had three assists of her own (to go with six much-needed points).
Kelsey Harris had seven rebounds and eight points.
Gross looked back with satisfaction: “That’s what’s so great about basketball, being a team sport: you have a lot of different pieces … each individual on the team has a really unique strength. Aly and Celia obviously have strengths, but other people right now are able to showcase their strengths.
“For us, it’s not about waiting around for someone else to step up.
“The two wins this week were gutty wins. We had to find different ways to get it done.”
Next up for UCD is cross-river rival Sacramento State on Saturday, Dec. 28, at 2 p.m. in The Pavilion. The high-flying Hornets have a 7-1 record and are averaging more than 93 points per game.
Notes: Houston Baptist was playing without leading scorer Shanice Steenholdt (ankle, leg). The Roswell, N.M., swingman was averaging 15.4 ppg. … The Huskies were coming off an 81-61 loss to Cal State Bakersfield, while the Aggies had beaten Santa Clara, 75-70, Wednesday. … Have Ball, Will Travel: Former Redlands coach Gary Smith — retired and now a Davis resident — has been helping the Hornet women install a devil-may-care-about-defense offense called The System. Smith introduced Davis High boys basketball to the shot-a-second scheme, had been seen at UCD men’s early practices and has worked with other prep schools in the region. … Monet Neal led HBC with 16 points and nine rebounds.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.