A bad start to one of the halves can be hard for a basketball team to come back from. And as the UC Davis women found out on Saturday afternoon, struggling at the start of both periods is too much to surmount.
The Aggies gave up heavy ground to UC Irvine in the early minutes of both the first and second halves, and eventually fell, 70-57, in a Big West Conference contest at The Pavilion.
In the first half, UCD (9-11, 4-5) came out with no offensive rhythm, and fell behind by as many as 13 before 10 minutes were played. Still, the Aggies battled back and cut the Anteaters’ lead to 30-25 before halftime, only to surrender a 10-0 run at the start of the second period.
The local woes stemmed not only from cold shooting — UCD made just 31.5 percent from the floor — but also from a lack of inside presence as they were outrebounded 48-30 and were unable to keep Irvine’s Camille Buckley from dominating around the rim. Buckley pulled down 22 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end, and added 15 points for the Anteaters (5-16, 1-8), who outscored the Aggies, 26-10, in the paint.
“Give UC Irvine a lot of credit. They played really well. They played hard. They made big shots. They rebounded the ball really well,” UCD head coach Jennifer Gross said afterward. “We just struggled to get into an offensive flow throughout the game. It was like we couldn’t string together multiple possessions (or) get on a run. It just wasn’t our (day, Saturday).”
UCD never led, but appeared to be on the verge of taking over on several occasions.
After falling behind 40-25 in the early part of the second half, the Aggies found their footing and began to inch their way back into the game. With 4:49 to go, Cortney French and Blair Shinoda connected on back-to-back 3-pointers and UCD was within three at 60-57. But the Aggies’ shooting touch betrayed them once again as they couldn’t get another shot to fall the rest of the way.
French hit six treys and had 20 points overall, while Shinoda finished with six points, five rebounds and five assists.
In the first half, it was French and freshman Molly Greubel (12 points overall) who got the Aggies back into the game. Greubel hit two 3-pointers and four free throws and French added a pair of long balls to bring UCD back from a 16-3 deficit to trail by just five at the break.
Center Alyson Doherty had three points and five rebounds, but got into foul trouble early and ended up playing only 15 minutes. She was sorely missed as the Aggies had no one tall or strong enough to guard Buckley one-on-one. Buckley drew double teams throughout the game, opening up lanes and shot attempts for players like Jennifer Tsurumoto (19 points) and Kelly Meggs (13 points).
The loss ended what was a three-game winning streak by UCD and dropped it back under .500 in conference play. The Aggies will have the chance to get themselves back on track in home matchups this week against UC Santa Barbara (Thursday) and Cal Poly (Saturday).
Notes: Celia Marfone scored six points for the Aggies. … Greubel had five rebounds and four assists. … As part of UCD mascot Gunrock’s birthday celebration, the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh alumni joined the current Band-uh and played during breaks in the action. … Five other mascots were in attendance and joined Gunrock in milling about The Pavilion.