The UC Davis women’s basketball team was hit with a technical foul before Friday’s game even started, thanks to some pregame music that ran on a little too long. Seattle University hit the two free throws. And that was the visitors’ only lead of the game.
The Aggies (18-7) rebounded strong from the early hiccup to take an 80-75 victory over the visiting Redhawks (7-19) in a nonconference game that served as a stepping stone for next week’s big matchup against UC Riverside. Getting a victory was especially important because UCD was coming off of tough losses against Pacific and Long Beach State.
“Well, we knew coming in that Seattle plays a very aggressive style of defense,” said UCD coach Sandy Simpson. “We knew we’d be up against it in terms of having to deal with pressure. But that was good for us.”
Though Seattle often uses a mixture of zone and man-to-man defense, all the Aggies saw on Friday was a 2-3 zone that allowed Vicky Deely to get open looks on the wing. Despite coming off the bench, she took advantage of the hole in the Redhawks defense to put up 13 points in the first half, and finished with 16 to go with eight rebounds.
Even with the added pressure, UCD was just as proficient inside. Mintun, the Aggies’ 6-foot-2 senior, bodied up against smaller opponents for nine rebounds, five of which came off her teammates’ misses. All those second-chance opportunities led to a game-high 18 points for Mintun despite being in foul trouble.
Starting wing Samantha Meggison added seven points, but found other ways to contribute, tallying seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Hannah Stephens was a major contributor off the bench, adding 12 points while shooting 75 percent from behind the arc. All in all, UCD’s subs outscored SU’s, 37-24.
“I’m not worried about Sam … she didn’t take bad shots,” Simpson said of Meggison. “I thought she was the best defensive player we had on the floor.”
Despite leading virtually the entire game and opening up several big leads, the Aggies consistently allowed the Redhawks to claw back to within a couple points. The UCD offense and defense both had some lapses throughout the game, and the locals didn’t get any help from the referees. The Aggies shot just one free throw the entire first half, while Seattle shot 12.
“We weren’t the aggressors against their zone, and in a zone, you’re not going to get many fouls,” Simpson said. “We started attacking the interior a little more with Heidi (Heintz), and that changed things for us.”
For all her low-post bashing, Heintz recorded seven points, and opened up lanes for other teammates to occupy. Kasey Riecks was the fourth Aggie to score in double figures, with 11 points, and the space in the key allowed UCD to outrebound Seattle, 43-32.
On Thursday, UCD will get back to Big West play with a matchup against rival UC Riverside at The Pavilion. The Highlanders beat the Aggies, 72-50, last month in Riverside using a huge second half to transform a game that was tied 23-23 at the break. UCR also defeated UCD in last season’s Big West championship game to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Notes: Aggie men’s team stars Mark Payne and Joe Harden were in attendance … “I don’t think Riverside knows what kind of team they’re going to face (Thursday),” Deely said after the game. … 6-2 junior Lauren Juric will return from injury this week, a major plus for UCD.