The Aggies are going dancing again.
Powered by 23 points from tournament Most Valuable Player Cierra Hall and a career-high 22 more from all-tournament selection Evanne Turner, the UC Davis women’s basketball team claimed its third Big West Conference Tournament title, using a huge second half to defeat UC Irvine, 61-42, on Saturday evening at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
The Aggies improved to 13-2 overall, successfully defending its Big West Tournament title from 2019 and winning the program’s third league tournament crown overall along with the 2011 squad. UC Davis clinches the league’s automatic NCAA berth, and will find out its opening round postseason foe with the bracket announced on Monday (March 15) at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Becoming the first repeat champion in the conference since Cal State Northridge accomplished the feat in 2014-15, the five-time defending regular season champions turned up the heat on both ends of the court after Hall’s bucket at the buzzer set the Aggies and Anteaters into the locker room tied at 26 at the break.
The senior then sank a pair of free throws to open the third-quarter scoring and fellow all-tournament team selection Sage Stobbart scored in the paint to open a four-point lead.
UC Davis, which shot 56 percent in the second half alone, and UC Irvine traded blows and stood tied at 32 before the Aggies scored eight of the final 10 points in the quarter to hold a six-point lead with 10 minutes to play.
That’s when Turner took over, scoring 11 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter, opening the period with a three-point play and draining two more from deep as part of a 12-0 run over a four-minute span as UC Davis led by as many as 20 points in the quarter with 1:25 to play.
Defensively, the Aggies continued to be stingy, limiting UC Irvine to just 16 second-half points and 23 percent shooting from the field in the final 20 minutes — and 29 percent overall for the game — including an 0-for-7 showing by the Anteaters from beyond the arc after halftime. Allowing only eight points in the third and fourth quarters on Saturday, UC Davis surrendered single-digit points in five of their 12 postseason quarters.
Meanwhile, UC Davis shot just over 45 percent from the floor for the contest, breaking the 40 percent plateau for the third-straight tournament game and the 12th time overall this year. On the glass, Davis held a 40-31 advantage — twelve of those rebounds coming via Stobbart, who tied the school’s Big West Tournament single-game record set by Paige Mintun against CSUN in 2009 and matched by Celia Marfone against UC Riverside in 2016.