By Bruce Gallaudet and Dylan Lee
Beginning last fall, UC Davis women’s basketball post Alyson Doherty was barely on opponents’ radar.
Now, after her second-best statistical game of the season, the sophomore from Forest Lake (by way of El Toro High) has set up a one-woman no-fly zone in the paint.
Furthermore, by scoring 23 points, grabbing eight rebounds (five offensive) and dishing out four assists in UC Davis’ 82-70 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, the 6-foot-3 Doherty displayed an emerging cache of weapons.
Doherty’s 23 marked the second game in a row she’s been over 20 — and just a point off her career high of 24 in a loss at Hofstra on Dec. 7.
But immediately after that game in New York two months ago, Doherty missed three weeks with an illness. She says it was a time to reflect on who she is as a basketball player — and where she wants to be.
“Looking back on the games that I (had played up to that point), I feel like I wasn’t playing up to the way I could have,” Doherty said.
While on the bench, Doherty met with UCD head coach Jennifer Gross and assistants Des Abeyta and Joe Teramoto. The meeting of the minds buoyed Doherty, enabling her to come back to the court with additional fire.
“I think she realized how much (being better meant) to her. She feels she can be a dominant post (player) in this conference,” Gross told The Enterprise after Saturday’s victory.
Since her return to the Aggie lineup, Doherty picked up right where she left off, and then some …
After a 10-minute, 3-point shakedown cruise in a loss to Sacramento State, Doherty has scored in double figures (14.8 ppg) in her last eight outings. She’s had eight or more boards in four of those contests.
Gross says that physical play and some new moves have been keys in Doherty’s next-level game.
“(She) is physical, but she’s mobile,” Gross said. “She’s worked on her game to the point where teams used to take away one hand and now she can counter back.
“The thing is, it’s really hard to double us because we have a lot of shooters on the floor, so (Doherty) gets a lot of one-on-one match-ups.”
Teammate Sydnee Fipps — who calls Doherty “a baller” — also realizes and appreciates how far Doherty has come: “She’s really improved and has taken steps forward. … I think she gives us a really good inside presence.”
Gross sees how Doherty can change the way other teams approach the Aggies.
“What that does for us is it says, ‘Well now you’re going to have to take somebody off of Sydnee, or somebody off Kelsey (Harris).’ Celia (Marfone) is no slouch either and she can score the ball as well,” Gross said with a smile, one that gets wider every time Doherty ups the ante for opposing players.
Notes: Doherty is averaging 12.4 points per game for the year. … Last year, she made the Big West Conference All-Freshman team when she averaged 5.3 points and 4.9 rebounds a game. … Her sister Erin is a UC Santa Barbara graduate. There was no indication if sis sent congratulations after Saturday’s game. … In high school, Doherty also played soccer and volleyball. … She’s an exercise biology major.