During the course of a 30-game season, there are bound to be nights when nothing goes the right way at the right time and hustle and moxie just aren’t enough to turn the tide.
That was the case on Thursday for the UC Davis women’s basketball team.
Cortney French’s potential game-tying 3-point attempt with 34 seconds left was just off the mark and the Aggies were unable to cap off a hard-fought second-half comeback by taking the lead. Instead, UCD fell to UC Santa Barbara, 60-52, at The Pavilion.
The Aggies (9-12, 4-6) struggled throughout the game to hit shots, especially when they had the opportunity to take a lead. Overall, UCD connected on just 34.7 percent of its attempts from the field and 20 percent of its tries from beyond the arc.
“This was a tough one,” Aggie head coach Jennifer Gross said afterward. “We were very focused and the energy was great throughout. Our pressure defensively was really good.
“We just couldn’t get on that little run we needed. We just needed to hit a few more shots and we fell a little bit short.”
More than anything, the inconsistent shooting was what did UCD in against the Gauchos (10-13, 6-4).
On defense, the Aggies were relentless, forcing 22 turnovers and holding UCSB scoreless during a key 5:23 stretch late in the second half.
“Defensively, we got contributions from everybody,” Gross said.
The locals capitalized on that defensive effort and cut the Gauchos’ advantage to 44-43 with 8:09 to go on layups by Alyson Doherty and Molly Greubel.
However, UCD wasn’t able to take its first lead since the first minute of the game, but did keep the score close enough in the next seven minutes to set up French’s 3-point attempt. The senior — who had just five points on the night but has hit 162 treys in her Aggie career — wasn’t able to get a wide-open look, but still came close with the ball just rimming out.
UCD was led by Sydnee Fipps and Greubel, who scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, and combined for 17 in the second period to help the Aggies inch their way back from a 31-24 halftime deficit.
They teamed up to dig UCD out of a 19-8 hole in the first half. Greubel connected on a trey and a pair of free throws and Fipps slashed through the lane for a pair of layups, making it 23-20 UCSB with under six minutes to play before intermission.
The Gauchos outscored the Aggies 8-4 the rest of the way, but UCD was firmly back in the game instead of being down by double digits.
Even with the loss, which was the Aggies’ second in a row and sent them into a tie with Long Beach State for seventh place in the Big West, the players remain undaunted.
“The effort was definitely there throughout the whole game, especially at the end, and we had a chance to win,” Greubel said. “It might not happen this time. But the next time we get the chance to play them, (if it’s) a close game, I have so much confidence that we are going to come out with a win.”
UCD will have the chance to get back on track on Saturday, when Cal Poly (13-8, 7-3) comes to The Pavilion for a 2 p.m. game. The Mustangs are tied for second in the league standings.
Notes: Doherty had six points and five rebounds, while Blair Shinoda had four points and four assists. … There was a moment of silence for Cal State Fullerton assistant coach Monica Quan who, along with her fiancé, was killed in a shooting in Los Angeles on Sunday night. The teams wore orange ribbons in honor of Quan.
— Reach Will Bellamy at [email protected]