The UCR women’s basketball team (11-12, 5-4) made the trip up north to Davis on Thursday, Feb. 14, where they fell to the hottest team in the Big West Conference. UC Davis (17-6, 9-1) are now winners of nine straight games, with their last loss occurring just over a month ago on Jan. 12 to Hawaii.
This game saw two of the conference’s top scorers hit the floor, as the Aggies’ Morgan Bertsch was averaging 24.2 points, and the Highlanders’ redshirt junior Jannon Otto was averaging 19.6 points herself.
Despite these individual stats, both teams had a rough start to the game. Riverside only shot 28.6 percent from field goal range, as Davis shot 25 percent. The home team led 12-11 after a quarter of play.
Riverside kept within single digits throughout the second quarter, as they were down 21-19 with just over three minutes left in the first half. From here, they let the Aggies go on a mini 8-2 run to head into halftime with a 29-21 lead.
The Highlanders fought back with a strong third quarter outing, shooting 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from the field. Four different players would score and even cut the Aggies’ lead to within five early in the fourth quarter. But this would be the closest deficit for the remainder of the night.
Though Bertsch started the game off cold in the first quarter, she lit the Highlander defense up and had a total of 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting. 19 of these points were allowed in the second half, and she was the only UC Davis player to reach double digits in scoring.
For the Highlanders, Otto put up a modest stat line of 15 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Keilanei Cooper and junior Marina Ewodo put up 13 points and 11 points, respectively.
Despite the loss on Thursday, the Highlanders managed to take care of business with a solid outing at home against Cal Poly (5-17, 2-9).
UCR won with a score of 80-66, marking the second time this season that the team has scored 80 or more points. It also serves as the seventh time the team scored over 70.
Otto revived her offense, notching 30 points on the night and as De Kergret poured in 22 points of her own. Four total Highlanders hit double digits in scoring as Ewodo and Cooper both recorded 10 points.
Riverside was forced to penetrate and take more shots within the paint, which is notably seen in Otto’s statline as she was able to put up that many points without even attempting a three.
The home team went into a halftime with a 33-31 and began to build upon their lead more in the third quarter. UCR shot 58.3 percent from the field for 24 points scored in the period. They then approached the fourth quarter with a 57-45 lead.
Like many other teams in conference, the Mustangs initiated a full court press, which allowed the Highlanders to score numerous buckets in transition. On the night, the team went 26-for-34 at the charity stripe, heading to the line more often than usual.
This time around, Riverside will travel up to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to finish off the season series. The two teams play Thursday, Feb. 21.
There are six games left for the Highlanders, three of which are against teams with a current losing record. If Riverside can take care of business and then some, they can still put themselves in a favorable position for the Big West Tournament.