Apparently, regular members of the UC Davis student rooting section headed for the ski resorts this weekend as only 450 fans watched the Aggie women defeat visiting UC Santa Barbara, 82-70, in a Big West Conference basketball game on Saturday.
As the small-but-vocal crowd saw their heroines embark on a slippery slope — trailing 20-9 early — it was Aggie Sydnee Fipps whose 3-pointer at 10:53 ignited a 7-0 UCD run, restoring order at The Pavilion.
Eventually, UCD (9-11, 4-3) grabbed a 35-34 halftime lead, stretched that to 12 points several times in the second half and settled on that margin for the final tally.
Oh. Did we mention that rally-triggering trey of Fipps’ marked her 1,000th point? In reaching that mark, the junior from Mariposa became the 16th player in Aggie history to do so.
But there was no celebration. Fipps’ arc-buster had brought UCD only to within 20-14. There remained a lot of work left.
As the first half evaporated, Alyson Doherty scored inside, Celia Marfone’s layup was good, Fipps canned a couple of charity tosses, then nailed another trey.
When Kelsey Harris’ jumper made it 27-27 at 4:57, UCD had climbed the mountain.
A minute later, freshman Brianne Yasukochi hit the first of her four free throws on the afternoon and the Aggies (now up 31-29 just before intermission) had downhill skiing from there.
While Doherty was on her way to 23 points and eight rebounds — and Harris (14) and Marfone (12) would combine for 26 and some game-changing, second-half defense — the postgame spotlight was on Fipps’ milestone …
“I didn’t even know,” Fipps told the assembled media. “Afterward my teammates said, ‘Congrats!’ ”
That’s it? No phone call from Obama?
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” the junior forward explained. “It’s just a number. I go out there and do whatever I can for my team to win. I just thank my teammates for getting me the ball.”
Fipps scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, blocked a shot and had two assists. As much as she gets the ball in the crowded paint, Fipps had only one turnover as UCD coughed it up only 10 times as a team.
Aggie coach Jennifer Gross (herself a Hall of Famer as a member of the Aggie 1,000 Club at 1,143 points) had expected Fipps to pooh-pooh the accomplishment, but points out it is something to be proud of nonetheless.
“It shows what a special player she is,” Gross explained. “I can’t remember the last time we had a junior reach that milestone.
“Every opposing coach knows the ball is going into her hands. It just amazes me every time I look at the stats she’s 17, 20, 25 — her scoring is so consistent.”
UCD outscored the Gauchos, 47-36, over the final 20 minutes. Both teams shot over 50 percent after the break, but the locals got six points off seven key turnovers and hit five 3-pointers to none for UCSB (6-14, 1-6).
Nicole Nesbit scored 13 of her 17 points in the final half to keep the Gauchos in the game.
Melissa Zornig, who toasted the Aggies for 10 points early, scored only four over the final 25 minutes.
UCD next heads south for a Thursday contest with Cal State Northridge (7 p.m.) and a Saturday date at UC Irvine (2 p.m.).
Notes: With Doherty and Fipps combining for 44 points, it marked the first time since Dec. 21, 2012, in a 78-69 win at USC, that two Aggies had 20: Fipps (22) and Cortney French (20). … Marfone was brilliant Saturday. In addition to her 12 points, she had seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 36 minutes (her longest stint of the season). … UCD shot 45.6 percent from the field, including 7-for-22 from 3-point range. From the Don’t Touch Me Dept.: Officials Rick Thome, Kevin Rose and Danielle Johnson took the new hands-off rule changes literally. There were 47 fouls whistled, allowing the Aggies to hit 31-of-36 free throws (86.1 percent). UCSB was 18-for-29 (62.1). … In other Big West action: Top dog Cal Poly (13-8, 7-1) beat Irvine, 84-79; second-place Northridge (10-12, 6-2) nipped Hawaii in OT, 75-72; and Long Beach State got past Cal State Fullerton, 83-64. UCD is in a tie with the 49ers and Warrior Rainbows for third place. … Aggie swingman Brianna Salvatore (knee) is still out.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.