IRVINE, Calif. -- Junior Rachel Nagel finished with a game-high 17 points and junior Marly Anderson added her first double-double as an Aggie with 11 points and 11 rebounds, pacing a group of five players in double figures and lifting visiting UC Davis to an, 89-48, win over UC Irvine in the Big West Conference opener for both teams on Thursday night at the Bren Events Center.
The Aggies improved to 10-4 overall with the win, claiming victory in their third straight conference opener. The Anteaters fell to 2-13 overall and 0-1 in league play, led by 14 points from Sabrina Englestad as the only UCI player in double figures.
Following up her 16-point return against Jacksonville last week, Nagel continued to have the hot hand, shooting 6-of-12 from the field, including five three-pointers, in 19 minutes. Sophomore Morgan Bertsch extended her double-digit scoring streak to 22 straight with 15 points on 5-of-7 from the floor, while junior Dani Nafekh added 15 more to go with four rebounds and five assists.
Anderson hit 5-of-7 from the floor en route to her double-double, joined off the bench by freshman Nina Bessolo, who added 10 points and six rebounds in 14 minutes. Junior Pele Gianotti, limited to just two points, was a jill-of-all-trades, adding nine rebounds and a career-high eight assists as UC Davis out-rebounded UC Irvine, 52-29, and had 27 assists on its 35 made baskets.
The Aggies led wire-to-wire for the second time this season, getting the scoring started on a three-pointer by Kourtney Eaton and running out to a six-point lead on a three by Nagel three minutes later. The Anteaters came within three points twice from that point, the last following a basket by Brooke Bayman to make it 12-9 with 4:47 to play, but an 11-3 run spanning the end of the first and the first two-plus minutes of the second quarter put UC Davis up 13 and the visitors never looked back.
A 15-3 burst to close the opening half staked the Aggies to a, 46-25, advantage at the break, outscoring the Anteaters, 22-10, in the period. UC Irvine scored seven of the first 10 points in the third quarter before UC Davis put its foot down, exploding for a 15-0 run over the next five minutes to build a 32-point lead, and the Aggies outscored UCI, 13-2, over the final 4:36 en route to their largest win of the season.
UC Davis shot 48 percent from the floor -- including a 61 percent clip in the fourth quarter -- and hit 40 percent from beyond the arc in the victory, holding Irvine to just 32 percent overall for the game. The Aggies turned 18 offensive rebounds into 23 second chance points and made the Anteaters pay for their 13 turnovers, scoring 19 points off those miscues.
The Aggies return to The Pavilion on Saturday (Jan. 7) at 2:30 p.m., as they host Hawai'i in a rematch of last year's Big West Conference Tournament championship game. The Rainbow Wahine fell to Long Beach State, 68-57, on Thursday night in their conference opener.