What a week this is for our student-athletes:
- The men’s basketball team (winner of the Big West Conference Tournament) is going to the NCAA’s Division I tournament for the first time in school history.
- The women’s basketball team (regular-season champion in the Big West) is going to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
- Our gymnastics team is headed into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships as the top seed.
- Solie Laughlin will carry the Aggie banner into the NCAA swimming championships.
Dancing into the NCAA
The Aggie men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA by winning the Big West Conference Tournament, defeating UC Irvine, 50-47, last Saturday night, a week after the Anteaters defeated the Aggies for the regular season title.
As the tournament champion, UC Davis earned the Big West’s automatic berth in the “Big Dance.” It’s the first appearance by the UC Davis men’s team in the tournament since the university moved up to the NCAA’s Division I in 2007.
UC Davis (22-12) will open play against North Carolina Central (25-8), winner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament. This is a “First Four” play-in game, wherein the Aggies and Eagles have one last shot for a spot in the 64-team NCAA bracket.
The winner will take a 16-seed position in the Midwest Regional and go up against the No. 1 seed, the Kansas Jayhawks, in the first round. See the complete tournament bracket here.
Aggie women travel to Utah for 1st round in the WNIT
They finished the season with an overall record of 23-7 overall (14-2 in conference). A championship in the conference tournament would have put them in the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the semifinals to UC Santa Barbara, 73-59.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of this team,” Big West Coach of the Year Jennifer Gross said of her Aggies after the game. “To go 14-2 in this difficult conference is quite an accomplishment. This hurts, but when this team has a moment to stop and reflect on this season, I hope everyone understands how special this group, and season is.”
Their first-round opponent: the Utah Utes (16-14 overall, 5-13 Pac-12). See the complete WNIT bracket here.
In 10 seasons as a Division I program, the Aggie women have made the postseason five times, one of those times in 2011 in the NCAA tournament. This year marks the team’s fourth time in the WNIT (and the first since 2012). Read more in this athletics department news release.
Gymnastics: Top seed
With the highest regional qualifying score, the Aggies earned the top seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships this weekend. As the top seed, the Aggie gymnasts will perform their routines in Olympic order: vault, bars, beam and floor.
The UC Davis gymnastics team (16-4) finished its regular season in strong form, posting a season-high 195.775 against Air Force (193.350) in the March 10 Senior Night meet at The Pavilion. The Aggies have won nine consecutive meets, posting a 16-4 dual record, best in school history.
The team did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, but individual gymnasts can still secure at-large berths in the Seattle Regional: Alexis Brown, all-around; Katy Nogaki, looking for her third individual at-large vault appearance; and Yonni Michovska, bars.
Laughlin carries Aggie banner
Laughlin is going to the NCAAs for the first time in her young career. The sophomore will compete in the 200 and 400 individual medleys, and the 200 backstroke
Laughlin’s events schedule: 200 IM, Thursday (March 16); 400 IM, Friday (March 17); and 200 back, Saturday (March 18). Preliminary heats each day start at 7 a.m. PDT, and consolation and final races start each day at 3 p.m. PDT.
Earlier this season Laughlin successfully defended her 400 IM and 200 back titles in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, where the UC Davis swimming and diving team finished third overall.
One of 281 swimmers invited to the meet, Laughlin is the fourth from UC Davis to make the NCAA championships in the program’s Division I era.