Heidi Heintz didn’t hesitate when discussing why she left San Francisco after two seasons to play at UC Davis, although it’s old news by now.
The senior from Central Valley has been with the Aggies three years, one on the bench while she redshirted and two as a starter. She’s now a captain for a team predicted to win the Big West Conference and make its first NCAA tournament appearance.
Heintz said the transfer was simple – Davis is far more like Spokane in general and the Valley in particular than San Francisco.
It wasn’t about basketball. After making the All-West Coast Conference freshman team, she started as a sophomore and averaged 10.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.
“Part of it was the city. It was fast-paced and I was just looking for something different,” she said. “It’s like night and day. Davis has more of a community feel, family atmosphere. It was a great change for me. It seems like ages ago.”
She’s doing much the same thing for Davis that she did for the Dons, hitting the boards hard as a 5-foot-10 battler, shooting well and scoring when needed.
She’s third in scoring (8.3), rebounding (4.8) and assists (25) for the Aggies, who are 7-2 after Tuesday’s win over Wichita State, with the losses to ranked UCLA and almost-ranked Kansas State on Sunday.
“We have a lot of scorers, which is nice compared to last year,” she said. “We have more weapons, so there is no pressure on me to score. We play team basketball, which is what I really enjoy. I think my role kind of changes, depending on what team we’re playing.
“I’m still an in between player, it’s been that way my whole life. I start at the four, but it’s four-out, one-in, so I’m facing the basket.”
Heintz led the Aggies (21-11) in rebounding (4.5) and was second in scoring (10.8) to earn second-team honors last year for the Big West champions who stumbled in the conference tournament. They went to their second WNIT in three years as a Division I school.
There are plans to fix that last stumble.
“We could be very good,” she said. “That’s definitely achievable. It would be pretty exciting.”
Only two area games to go see this week, UC Irvine (6-3) at Eastern Washington (2-6) tonight and Idaho (6-3) at Gonzaga (7-3) on Friday. EWU plays at San Diego (7-3) on Saturday when Washington State (2-8) is at Wyoming (6-2).
Gonzaga dominates the calendar next week, playing Brigham Young (7-3) on Tuesday and Fullerton (4-6) at noon on Dec. 23. Also on Tuesday, Eastern is at Oregon State (6-3) and Washington State is at San Diego State (3-4). Idaho is at Saint Mary’s (5-5) on Dec. 23.
Gonzaga leads the WCC in 10 statistical categories, including offense (85.3), defense (62.7) and scoring margin (plus-22.7). The offense is No. 11 nationally and the shooting, at 47.4 percent, is 12th. … Idaho is holding teams to 33.6 shooting, which is 19th nationally. … Idaho senior Yinka Olorunnife is only a couple of rebounds shy of averaging a double-double at 13.3 points and 9.8 rebounds. … Portland State senior Kelli Valentine (Mead), who is 14 short of 1,000 career rebounds, leads the Big Sky Conference in 3-point percentage (52.6). … Sophomore Sara Kliewer (Lewis and Clark) had a career-high 14 points last week when Portland won at Montana State. … EWU’s Julie Piper is 34 points shy of the 1,000-point club. … Gonzaga is collecting diapers at Friday’s game for Catholic Charities Spokane to distribute.