FULLERTON — The UC Davis women’s basketball team was calm under pressure.
Sophomore Molly Greubel drew a foul on an inbounds play with less than a second left and calmly sank two free throws to force overtime.
Junior Sydnee Fipps scored the go-ahead basket with 25 seconds remaining in the extra period.
The strong late-game performances helped the visiting Aggies escape Titan Gym with a 69-67 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night.
Fipps and sophomore Alyson Doherty finished with 15 points apiece to pace four players in double figures for UCD (8-9, 3-1 Big West Conference), which won its season-best third straight game.
“You always hear about these amazing endings to basketball games and we always tell our teams to just keep fighting, keep clawing, find a way to win, and this was a perfect example,” said Aggie head coach Jennifer Gross. “You just never know what can happen and some crazy thing can go your way like it did for us (Saturday).”
Fullerton, led by 23 points from senior Alex Thomas, fell to 6-10 overall and suffered its first conference loss of the season (2-1).
With UCD leading by three following a pair of free throws by Fipps with 2:31 remaining, Thomas took off on a personal 7-0 run for the Titans, draining a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to tie it and, then, sinking a pair of free throws after the Aggies were called for a foul with 0.5 left on the clock for a 59-57 lead.
After three consecutive timeouts, UCD had the ball out of bounds at the far end of the court with one last chance when Greubel stepped in front of Titan Natalie Williams, drawing the foul, and sending the sophomore to the line for two. Greubel, a perfect 8-for-8 from the line in conference play and an 81 percent foul shooter overall on the year, sank both to send the game into overtime.
“We knew that the only way that we could really try to win it was to try and draw a foul,” Gross said. “We know Molly is pretty sneaky, so she came up behind the defender on the ball and set a screen and was able to get the call. More important, she stepped to the line and knocked them both down.”
Greubel added, “We kept going back-and-forth on the play call. (Assistant Coach) Matt Klemin and the staff drew up an awesome play and, we weren’t depending on getting the call, but the coaches just said ‘Take it. Take the charge.’ That’s what we did and we got the call.”
In the extra period, the Aggies started quickly building a five-point lead with 1:32 to play in the contest, but Fullerton once again rallied back. Chante Miles hit two from the line and Tailer Butler came up huge with a deep trey to tie the game at 67-67 with 1:15 to go. But UCD got the ball to Fipps, who drove and laid it in for the go-ahead basket with less than 30 seconds to play.
Playing for the last shot, the Titans got the ball into the hands of Thomas, whose game-winning attempt was just off the mark. Greubel grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock to seal the win.
“Our energy was just insane after the final play (in regulation),” Greubel said. “We all thought there was still a chance, but that it was still, pretty much, a longshot. After we got that, there was no way we were going to let this game get away from us. I am so proud of my teammates and so lucky that they put me in the position to make a play at the end, but there were a lot of plays throughout that were important to getting this win.”
Greubel finished with eight points, six rebounds, and four assists in a team-high 41 minutes for the Aggies, who also got 12 points from Kelsey Harris and 10 from Celia Marfone. Doherty, who scored 13 of her 15 in the second half, added a game-high eight rebounds for UCD, which outrebounded Fullerton, 44-25.
The Aggies close out their three-game Big West road swing with a trip to the islands, traveling to take on Hawaii on Thursday at 9 p.m.