UC Riverside 71, UC Davis 67

UC Riverside’s Amber Cox and Alyssa Morris proved to be too much

for UC Davis to handle and the pair vaulted the Highlanders to the

NCAA tournament.

Cox scored a career-high 27 points and Morris added 19 to lead

UC Riverside to a 71-67 victory over UC Davis for the championship

of the Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament

Saturday.

Cox made all five of her 3-point shots and was named the

tournament’s most valuable player.

“I definitely feel like I’m in a zone,” Cox said. “Each shot

that I put up counts. But it’s really about being ready whenever

the ball does come to you.”

The third-seeded Highlanders (17-15) have won 14 of their past

17 games after a rough start.

“It really came down to too much Amber Cox and too much Alyssa

Morris,” Davis coach Sandy Simpson said. “We were right into them

(defensively) and they’re still knocking it down. They were just

lights out.”

Riverside coach John Margaritis said his team’s 3-12 start

reflected numerous injuries.

“I was deciding what drills to run with six people,”

Margaritis said. “We were just not developing. But we got healthy

and we went home for four games. We won those four and that gave us

some momentum.

“Down the stretch, we had enough weapons and enough trust in

each other to compete.”

Heidi Heintz scored a career-best 22 points and made 12 of 14

free throws for the top-seeded Aggies (21-10), who would have

qualified for their first NCAA tournament with a victory. Paige

Mintun added 18 points.

Riverside held a 67-55 lead with 5:37 to play but Heintz scored

six points during an 11-0 surge that narrowed Davis’ deficit to

67-66 with 1:38 remaining.

“We knew at that point just to take an aggressive mindset, and

just attack them and attack the rim,” Heintz said. “They were

fouling us every time we drove.”

Haylee Donaghe had a chance to put the Aggies ahead after making

a steal but missed her layup and the Highlanders’ Brittany Waddell

grabbed the rebound with 48 seconds left.

Riverside freshman Tre’shonti Nottingham made two free throws

with 15 seconds left to create a 69-66 lead. Minton converted the

first of two free throws with 4.5 seconds left but Nottingham

responded with two free throws with 1.9 seconds to play.

“It was very overwhelming because I had never been in a

position like that,” Nottingham said. “I was more nervous than

ever at that point. But after I hit the first one, I was

fine.”

In the second half, Riverside shot 68.4 percent from the field

and 72.7 percent from 3-point range.