The four-time defending Big West Conference champion UC Davis women’s basketball team learned its league schedule for the 2020-21 season, as the conference office announced a 20-game slate on Wednesday afternoon.
Subject to any necessary state and local approvals, the Aggies will compete under a modified format for the upcoming year, aimed at reducing travel and emphasizing the health and safety of the student-athletes. The traditional home-and-home schedule has been altered so that teams will play the same opponent on consecutive days at one site, with the majority of games held on Friday and Saturday over an 11-week period with one bye week built in.
Per the direction of the Big West Board of Directors, all teams will begin the year without fans in attendance. The issue of fan attendance will be revisited as the season progresses.
By joining the Aggie Cutout Crew, fans can support UC Davis basketball by purchasing fan cutouts that will sit inside the Pavilion for every men and women’s basketball home games. Cutouts will be placed in sections that are visible on video streams for home games.
UC Davis opens defense of its title at home with back-to-back games on Dec. 27 and 28 against league newcomer CSU Bakersfield at The Pavilion. Other home series include UC Irvine (Jan. 8-9), newcomer UC San Diego (Jan. 22-23), CSUN (Feb. 5-6), and Cal Poly (Feb. 26-27).
The Roadrunners join the Big West after spending the last seven years as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, while the Tritons will begin their NCAA-mandated four-year reclassification period to Division I. UCSD will be included in all Big West round robin sports schedules, but will not be eligible for the conference tournament until it officially completes its reclassification in July 2024.
This year’s road conference slate will see the Aggies travel to UC Riverside (Jan. 1-2), Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 15-16), UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 29-30), Long Beach State (Feb. 12-13) and Hawaii (March 5-6). UC Davis’ bye week will be Feb. 19-20.
Official game times, as well as a non-conference schedule of opponents, will be announced at a later date.
The 2021 Big West Women’s Basketball Tournament is scheduled to run from March 10-13 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., with the top eight men and women’s teams competing under the same roof for the first time since 2010, when the event was held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Previously, the women’s first-round and quarterfinal games were held at an on-campus site before moving to the Honda Center for the semifinals and championship game.
Wrapping up their fifth consecutive winning season with a 17-12 overall record and a 12-4 mark in conference play in 2019-20, UC Davis won the league by a full three games en route to their fourth consecutive Big West title — and the program’s fifth overall. The Aggies became the first program to win at least four consecutive league regular season titles since UC Santa Barbara from 1996-2005 and only the third program to accomplish the feat in the history of the conference.
As the league’s regular season champion, UC Davis earned a double-bye into the tournament semifinals, where the Aggies were scheduled to face No. 8 Cal Poly before the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the season, Head Coach Jennifer Gross was named the Big West Coach of the Year for the fourth consecutive year — the first women’s basketball coach in the history of the league to do so — while senior-to-be Cierra Hall (9.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, .417 FG%) was named the conference’s defensive player of the year in addition to earning spots on the All-Big West Second Team and the Big West All-Defensive Team.
Joining Hall on the postseason honor roll were departed senior Katie Toole, who was named to the all-league second team, and rising sophomore Evanne Turner (6.1 ppg, .442 FG%, .436 3P%), who became the eighth Aggie named to the league’s all-freshman team.
UC Davis returns eight letter winners and three starters for this coming season. In addition to Hall and Turner, senior point guard Mackenzie Trpcic (7.0 ppg, 4.58 apg) returns in the Aggies’ backcourt, while juniors Sage Stobbart (7.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, .445 FG%) and Kayla Konrad (5.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) patrol the post.
Also on the roster are a trio of towering returning redshirts in 6-foot-6 Lena Svanholm, who sat out 2019-20 after transferring from Colorado State, 6-foot-5 freshman Kenedy Lilly, and 6-foot-3 freshman Megan Jones, while three new faces join the program in true freshmen Bria Shine (Sacramento, Calif. / Christian Brothers HS ‘20), Allie Carreon (Chula Vista, Calif. / San Diego Christian HS ‘20), and Mazatlan Harris (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic HS ‘20).
– Jason John Spencer