The Aggie women’s basketball team reigns supreme once again, winning the Big West Conference championship Saturday (Feb. 29) for the fourth consecutive season.
The Aggies did what they had to do in an afternoon game at The Pavilion at the ARC, defeating UC Riverside, 78-69, to claim at least a share of the conference title. Then, in a night game, Hawaii fell to Cal State Fullerton, 70-64, giving the Aggies (11-3) the Big West title all to themselves with two games remaining. Hawaii fell into a second-place tie with Cal State Fullerton, at 8-6.
The Aggie women’s last regular season games are on the road: Cal State Northridge, Thursday (March 5), and Long Beach State, Saturday (March 7).
The Big West women’s tournament will be played next week, starting March 10 — with the Aggies as the No. 1 seed. Winning the Big West tournament will put the Aggies in the NCAA Tournament; otherwise, the Aggies, as the Big West regular-season champion, will go to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
In last Saturday’s game against UC Riverside, Aggie senior Katie Toole scored a team-high 17 points on Senior Day, matching sophomore Sage Stobbart’s point total. Junior Mackenzie Trpcic added seven assists, and junior Cierra Hall grabbed a game-high 10 boards.
The regular season title is the fifth overall for UC Davis, which became the first Big West school to win four straight crowns since UC Santa Barbara won 10 consecutive crowns from 1995 to 2005, and is now one of only three schools in conference history to win at least four in a row.
Leading by as many as 15 points in the game, the Aggies fell behind by a point midway through the third after the Highlanders opened the period on a 13-5 run, but the advantage would not last long. Senior Nina Bessolo drained one of her three triples on the night, followed by three-pointers from Trpcic and Toole, and UC Davis was off to the races.
The burst was part of a larger 14-3 burst for the Aggies, who built a 10-point lead and never looked back. UC Davis led by 11 at the end of the third and pushed the advantage to 15 with baskets by Toole and Evanne Turner to open the fourth.
UC Riverside closed to within five points twice in the final two minutes, but would come no closer as the Aggies buried their final four from the line to set off the celebration.
Trpcic added 11 points to augment her seven assists, while senior Sophia Song finished with 10 points in her final regular season home appearance. UC Davis shot a collective 44 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three-point range, while Hall added three steals to help pace the defense.