The UC Davis women’s basketball team, lead by senior Syndee Fipps (Yosemite High 2011 graduate), flew to the ‘islands” last week to play the University of Hawaii. Team members and coaches were not thinking about beautiful sandy beaches, surfing, or a tour of a pineapple ranch. They were focused on getting a win over Hawaii - a win that would have put UC Davis in a first place tie with Hawaii in the Big West Conference.
In a see-saw game that came down the final possession of the game, a last-second game-tying shot by Fipps missed the mark, and Hawaii escaped with a 62-60 win, and sole possession of first place in the 13-team conference.
The Aggies entered the game with a five-game win streak, while Hawaii won its 11th consecutive game, in front of a season-high 2,859 fans in Honolulu. The Aggies had their five-game winning streak snapped, falling to 13-11 overall and 8-4 in conference play.
School scoring record for Fipps
Fipps finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the line, setting a new school record with her 32nd career 20-point game. Although records are great, Fipps would not hesitate to tell you she would rather have a win for her team than a school scoring record.
The Rainbow Wahine improved to 19-7 overall and 11-2 in conference play to remain in first place in the league standings. Shawna-Lei Kuehu finished with a team-high 12 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, including two free throws with 29.9 seconds remaining proving to be the difference.
Ashleigh Karaitiana’s three-pointer from the right corner turned a one-point game into a four-point Rainbow Wahine lead with just over a minute to play, and Kuehu’s two free throws with 30 seconds to go put the home team up five.
The Aggies didn’t shy away however, driving back down the court and getting the ball inside to Alyson Doherty, who powered up on the right side, sinking the basket and drawing the foul. Her free throw was good, bringing UC Davis to within a pair, 62-60.
Forced to foul, the Aggies sent Briana Harris to the line for two shots - she missed both, giving UC Davis one last chance. After an Aggies’ timeout, Fipps got the ball at the top of the key and drove left, but her fall-away shot at the buzzer came up short as the game ended.
UC Davis over Long Beach 83-66
Before the Hawaii game, Fipps tied the school record with her 31st career 20-point game and the Aggies nailed a school-record tying 17 three-pointers, pulling away from visiting Long Beach State for an 83-66 win on Feb. 19.
The win was the fifth straight victory for UC Davis, which improved to 13-10 overall and strengthened its hold on second place in the league standings at 8-3 as both the 49ers and Cal Poly, which were tied for third place entering the week, both lost on Thursday. The streak is the longest since the Aggies opened the 2011-12 season with five consecutive victories.
Fipps finished with 20 points in 26 minutes, to match former Aggie great Staci Stevens’ school record set from 1984-88, hitting 7-of-11 from the field - including five 3-pointers - and adding five rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots to her final stat line.
“Our team can score and it’s fun when it’s clicking like it was tonight,” Coach Jennifer Gross said. “We share the ball so well, which I’m really proud of and I love about our team. You take away one thing, we’re going to get you somewhere else, and everybody is taking advantage of their opportunity and making people pay when they’re left open.”
UC Davis returns home for its final two games of the season - hosting Cal Poly Feb. 26, and UC Santa Barbara Feb. 28.