On a night when UC Davis coach Jennifer Gross passed junior forward Sydnee Fipps on the all-time school scoring list (what?), the Aggie women routed visiting UC Riverside, 78-52, Thursday.
Celia Marfone collected a career-high 15 rebounds for UCD and Ol’ Reliable Fipps tallied 20 points.
The win moves the locals to 14-14 on the season, but more importantly takes the Aggies to 9-6 in Big West Conference play — keeping alive their hope to improve on a current No. 4 seeding for next week’s league tournament.
UCD is one game ahead of UC Irvine (15-14, 8-7).
With a first-round bye at stake, the two squads meet in a crucial Saturday encounter at The Pavilion (2 p.m.).
“I’m learning so much about our team every single game,” Gross explained. “The last four (victories), it’s been fun to see because we’ve had to win in different ways.”
On their streak, the Aggies came from behind against Cal Poly, then jumped out in front against UC Santa Barbara (and stayed there).
Against the Highlanders on Thursday, the first half was contentious before UCD outscored its guests by 20 points over the final 20 minutes.
Point guard Molly Greubel fueled an early Aggie spurt.
First, she took a nifty pass from Fipps and canned a 3-pointer. Then her steal and long drive to the hoop ended in a basket as she was knocked into the backboard support stanchion (no foul call).
On another possession, UCD passed the ball around the perimeter for 18 seconds before Greubel finally drove inside for a lay-in and a 14-8 Aggie lead.
But Riverside has the conference’s leading scorer in Brittany Crain — and when her long 3-pointer shredded net, the Highlanders were back in contention at 14-13.
UCR (6-22, 2-13) actually took the lead at 17-16 after a pair of Kiara Harewood free throws with 8:44 left in the first half.
However, UCD long-range specialist Kelsey Harris hit back-to-back treys (her only points of the night) and the Aggies would never trail again.
The two distance dandies sent the Iowa State transfer past Lori Hurlburt on the single-season trey list (77). Harris needs four 3-pointers to pass Karen Boisvert (1991) for No. 1 all-time.
At the break, the locals were up, 32-26. In the second half, UCD waved goodbye to its guests.
After buckets from Marfone and Alyson Doherty, Fipps scored six straight points and Idit Oryon nailed a 3-pointer to give the Aggies a 46-30 lead at 12:54.
Oryon, a senior, was playing in front of her mother and brother (Edna and Barak), who were visiting from Idit’s native Israel.
To celebrate, Oryon scored all of her 11 points in the second half.
With Fipps — who played only 24 minutes — heating up, UCD led by as many as 30 points down the stretch.
Then there was Greubel …
She hasn’t missed a shot of any kind since 2:47 was left against Cal Poly three games ago.
Perfect from the field (4-for-4), the ex-Foothill High (Santa Ana) star hit her only free throw. Greubel finished with 12 points, as did Doherty.
Marfone, who just last Thursday collected a previous-career-best 12 boards, explained her recent emergence in role she for which she was pitted:
“I think this has been my role the whole season, it’s now I’m just doing it more. (At a recent team meeting) I made a promise to my team … (that I would) just board. The past couple of games it’s been going my way.”
Her 15 rebounds were the 13th-best number in Aggie history.
Oh, and that Gross passing Fipps scoring thing?
Sports information folks were digging through the archives this week and found 100 points for which then-Aggie guard Gross wasn’t credited.
That meant that Gross now has 1,243 points. Last week, Fipps passed the coach’s old mark, but with Thursday’s revelation, Gross passed Fipps (1,178) — taking over seventh place on the all-time scoring list.
“That felt good,” Gross told The Enterprise, sharing a laugh with Fipps after the win. “Didn’t even have to lace ‘em up and I went right by her.”
Fipps wasn’t worried: “I might have to pass her again.”
Notes: With Hawaii’s 73-60 win over UCSB on Thursday, the Rainbow Wahine stayed a game up on UCD in the standings — and hold all the tie-breakers with the Aggies. However, throw a loss by Cal Poly (16-12, 10-5) in the season finale into the equation and UCD (thanks to a 2-0 mark against Cal Poly) goes to the BWC postseason as the No. 3 seed, provided it beats Irvine. Go ahead, do your taxes now, they’re probably easier to follow. … “The crowd, I thought, was tremendous (Thursday),” Gross added. “When we came out, I was hearing them and the Aggie Pack was going and the community was out. It was a fun atmosphere, (and we’d like) to continue to build on that success and get even more people out on Saturday.” On a Public Safety Night which featured T-shirt giveaways, Thursday’s attendance was 853.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.