UCSB season done in by Davis

ANAHEIM – It was a hearty performance by the UCSB women’s basketball team, but ultimately UC Davis got the better of the Gauchos, cutting short UCSB’s season on its way to the Big West championship game.

Paige Mintun had 15 points and Haylee Donaghe chipped in 12 points and 6 steals – including two timely buckets in traffic late in the game – to lead the UC Davis Aggies to a 63-53 victory.

The game was a heated and exciting affair, with UCSB guard Meagan Williams cutting the lead to two off of a steal and layup with 3:15 to go. But Donaghe and the Aggies scored three quick buckets in succession to put the game out of reach.


“We weren’t too hyped up, but we were excited, certainly,” said Davis head coach Sandy Simpson.  “Defensively we did a great job.  To their credit, they were really crashing [the boards], but I thought we were better down the stretch.”

“They’re a tremendous team,” said UCSB’s head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “They’re really well coached.  Their players really stepped up today.”

UCSB's Meagan Williams goes in for a lay-up.

Williams finished with 17 points and six rebounds in her final game for the Gauchos, and Mekia Valentine had 10 points and 13 rebounds in the loss, which keeps the Gauchos out of the Big West title game for the first time since 1996.

UCSB also finishes with a 15-17 record, its first losing season since 1990.

UC Davis opened the game with a tenacious half-court trap that produced 19 Gaucho turnovers in the first half, leading to 20 Aggie points.  But off of a 50-22 rebounding edge, UCSB fought back from the 14-point halftime deficit to contest the lead with just a few minutes remaining.

“I asked my team at halftime how they wanted to respond,” said Gottlieb.  “Do we want to play the victim here, or do you want to come out and play like champions?  And I thought our effort in the second half was that of a championship team.”

Fatigue seemed to be a factor for the Gauchos, who played in their third game in as many days.  Shooters Emilie Johnson, Chris Spencer, and Jordan Franey combined to go 4-17 from long range, as the team shot 28% from behind the arc.

“I just didn’t hit shots,” said Johnson.  “I can’t blame the team for that.  It’s not because I’m tired, it’s because I’m not focused.”

The Gaucho bigs played strong defense down low, limiting star forward Mintun to 6-of-15 shooting.  But the Aggies presented a balanced attack, with four players scoring in double digits, and five players connecting from long range.

After cutting the deficit to two points, UC Davis went on a 10-2 run to seal the victory and their spot in the championship game.

“I’m proud of my players for the team they became,” said Gottlieb.  “They taught me what it means to believe in something…that’s something I’m going to take with me for the rest of my life.”

“Its sad, but I feel like we went out with a fight,” said Williams, who was markedly sullen after the game.  “We didn’t give up.”

Added Johnson, “This is definitely a lesson that I can learn from, to grow…Davis did a great job this year, but the Gauchos are going to be ready next year.”