Either they were blinded by the bright pink jerseys or unable to keep up with a ball that was being flung around the court instead of dribbled.
For whatever reason — and it was probably the latter — Cal Poly couldn’t find a way to keep the UC Davis women’s basketball team from finding open shots and knocking them down on Saturday as the Aggies prevailed, 79-69, at The Pavilion.
UCD also overcame a career outing from Davis High graduate Nikol Allison, who poured in a game-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Mustangs.
But the Aggies, sporting pink uniforms as part of a school event to raise money for breast cancer research, shot 50 percent from both the field and from 3-point range, showing a rejuvenated offense after three straight games of connecting on less than 40 percent of their shots.
The turnaround was due in part to the play of point guard Blair Shinoda, who dished out nine assists and repeatedly found teammates Sydnee Fipps (18 points), Celia Marfone (18 points) and Molly Greubel (13 points) for open 3-pointers — 10 in all — and easy layups in the paint.
“It’s great when your teammates hit the shots because you get the assists,” Shinoda said afterward. “It’s really fun, running in transition and hitting teammates like Sydnee who can score the ball.”
Overall, the team recorded 20 assists and saw nine different players score.
“We always have five players on the floor who can shoot the ball,” added UCD head coach Jennifer Gross. “When it comes from our posts, when it comes from our perimeter players, it’s really nice to see such a balanced attack and that got us going (Saturday).”
The Aggies got off to a quick start, taking an early 11-0 advantage behind a pair of 3-pointers from Marfone and another from Fipps.
Cal Poly (13-9, 7-4 Big West Conference) stopped the run when Allison put in a layup, and the Mustangs battle back to trade leads for much of the first half. Just before the break, however, Greubel hit back-to-back treys and UCD went up 36-35 at intermission, never to trail again.
In the second half, the Aggies came out with a bang, expanding their lead to 13 points by the 10-minute mark. Fipps and Marfone scored early and often during the period and the team forced the Mustangs into 10 of their 19 turnovers after the break.
“The exciting thing was in the locker room at halftime I really felt like (we) just believed in ourselves and we came out and we really executed much better in the second half offensively (and) we were able to string some stops together defensively,” Gross said.
Cal Poly made several advances on the Aggies down the stretch, at one point cutting their lead to five, but UCD responded with runs of its own on every occasion and was comfortably ahead in the final minute.
The win capped off a four-game homestand, and the Aggies now look ahead to a trip to Hawaii (Thursday) followed by a road game against Cal State Northridge (Saturday). However, knocking off the Mustangs, who entered Saturday sitting in second place in the Big West, was a definite confidence booster for UCD.
“I’m really excited because I think we’re a really good road team,” Fipps said. “And (in) these next two games, I think we’re going to be underestimated, but we can definitely get them and I think we’re going to be rolling now.”
The Aggies are tied for sixth in the conference standings.
Notes: Alyson Doherty was the fourth Aggie in double figures with 10 points. … Shinoda had six points and four rebounds to go along with her assists. … Fipps had seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Marfone had six rebounds. … On the pink jerseys, Fipps said: “Pink’s my favorite color, so I loved it.” Added Gross: “It was a little extra special for us (Saturday). One of our players, (redshirt freshman) Lauren Beyer, her mom is going through breast cancer right now. So it was very personal for us and everybody has someone that they know who is dealing with (cancer). We were just playing a little extra for Lauren’s mom and for everybody else that we know personally who has been affected.” … Allison, who was a four-year starter for DHS before graduating in 2009, came off the bench but made 9-of-15 shots and added a block and two steals before fouling out in the final seconds.
— Reach Will Bellamy at [email protected]