The five-time defending Big West Conference champion UC Davis women’s basketball team is the No. 1 seed and will open play at the 2021 Air Force Reserve Big West Women’s Basketball Championships, presented by The Hawaiian Islands, on Wednesday morning (March 10) at 11 a.m. PT against No. 9-seeded Cal State Fullerton at the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
To watch a video stream from ESPN3 visit https://es.pn/3cgvL34.
IN THE RANKINGS…
Despite claiming their fifth consecutive Big West title, the Aggies ranked No. 15 in the latest COLLEGE INSIDER mid-major poll released on March 9, moving down four spots from No. 11 the week prior. The No. 11 ranking in the mid-major poll on March 2 is the highest of the season and the highest for the program since the Aggies were ranked No. 8 in the Feb. 27, 2018 poll. UC Davis has been among the top 20 every week this season, extending its run to 16 consecutive weeks dating back to the final 2019-20 poll.
UC Davis leads the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton by a 21-11 count, but the two teams did not meet during the 2020-21 regular season due to a Yolo County Health Order that put the Aggies on pause for nearly two months. The Titans defeated the Aggies in their last meeting, 71-61, at The Pavilion, ending an 11-game UC Davis winning streak that dated back to 2015. UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton have never met in the Big West Conference Tournament.
ABOUT THE COACHES…
UC DAVIS: Jennifer Gross is in her 10th season (17th overall) at UC Davis with a record of 183-112 (.620).
CAL STATE FULLERTON: Jeff Harada is in his fourth season at Cal State Fullerton with a record of 43-68 (.387), and his 11th season overall as a head coach with a record of 145-158 (.479).
ABOUT THE TITANS…
Cal State Fullerton entered the tournament with 3-17 overall record and a 2-14 mark in Big West play before knocking off No. 8-seeded UC Riverside, 55-51, in the opening round on Tuesday (March 9)… The Titans split their final two regular season contests with UC San Diego, losing the second on a buzzer beater in overtime… Fullerton lost its first seven games to open the year before a 69-51 victory over Concordia, then lost seven straight prior to a 65-49 victory over Cal Poly for its other league triumph… Junior guard Amiee Book leads the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg, standing as the only Titan in double figures… She is also shooting 47 percent overall and 43 percent from three-point range… Joy Krupa is the team’s leader on the glass, averaging 8.3 rebounds per contest to go with 7.9 ppg.
DAVIS TOURNAMENT NOTES…
UC Davis is the defending Big West Tournament champion after claiming the trophy with wins over UC Irvine in the semifinals and Hawai’i in the 2019 championship game… The Aggies were the No. 1 seed and scheduled to face No. 8 Cal Poly in the semifinals of the 2020 tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event the same day that UC Davis was supposed to leave for Southern California…The Aggies are 13-10 all-time in the Big West Tournament… With the elimination of the double-bye for the league’s top two teams for 2021, this year marks the earliest that UC Davis has played in the Big West Tournament since a 71-67 victory over UC Santa Barbara in the 2016 quarterfinals… UC Davis has qualified for the Big West Tournament every year since becoming a full-fledged member of the league in 2007-08… The Aggies have made the tournament championship game six times in that span (2008, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2018, and 2019) and have won the tournament title twice (2011 and 2019)… Other than conference newcomers CSU Bakersfield and UC San Diego, the Aggies have faced every team in the league in the tournament but one since joining the league, skipping over only Cal State Fullerton: UC Riverside (4-1), UC Santa Barbara (3-2), UC Irvine (3-1), Cal Poly (1-0), Long Beach State (1-0), Hawai’i (1-1), and CSUN (0-4), while posting an 0-1 record against former league member Pacific.
• Senior Cierra Hall becomes the second Aggie in the last three seasons to be named the Big West Conference Player of the Year, joining former teammate Morgan Bertsch (2019).
• After winning the league’s defensive player of the year award as a junior in 2020, Hall becomes only the third player to win both awards in a career in league history, joining CSUN’s Channon Fluker and UC Riverside’s Kemie Nkele.
• Junior Sage Stobbart gave UC Davis the league’s defensive player of the year for the second straight season, joining Hall and Haylee Donaghe (2010) as Aggie winners of the award.
• Hall and Stobbart were named to the All-Big West First Team -- the third time in the history of the program that UC Davis has landed a pair on the first team in the same season: Morgan Bertsch and Pele Gianotti were on the first team in 2017, and Bertsch and Kourtney Eaton accomplished the feat in 2019.
• Stobbart also earned the final conference player of the week award of the regular season on March 8, joining Hall (who won the award twice) as weekly honorees this season.
• Senior Mackenzie Trpcic picked up her first All-Big West honor after being named to the honorable mention team. She was a third-team All-America East selection as a sophomore at UAlbany before transferring to UC Davis.
• Junior Kayla Konrad joined Stobbart on the league’s all-defensive team, becoming the third and fourth UC Davis players named to that list along with Bertsch (2019) and Hall (2020).
• Six of UC Davis’ nine wins have come by double figures, four of those six by 15 points or more.
• UC Davis has held opponents to under 32 percent shooting from the field in five of its last six games, and under 30 percent from beyond the arc in six of its last seven games.
• Overall, opponents have shot better than 40 percent against the Aggies only three times, while topping that benchmark from beyond the arc only twice this season.
• UC Davis ranks No. 9 in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense (.343) and No. 21 in three-point percentage defense (.266), while standing at No. 33 in scoring defense (57.5 ppg).
• The Aggies have kept their hands to themselves, ranking No. 12 in the NCAA in fewest fouls (160).
• They have also done well at keeping the ball out of the hands of the opponents, ranking No. 12 in the NCAA in fewest turnovers (159).
• Meanwhile, UC Davis has shot better than 41 percent in nine of its 12 games this season.
• The 46 points allowed in the finale in Honolulu are tied for the fewest allowed by the Aggie defense this season, matching the 58-46 win over UC San Diego on Jan. 23 and the fewest since giving up 39 against CSUN on Jan. 29 of last season.