DAVIS, Calif. -- The UC Davis tandem of Pele Gianotti and Dani Nafekh combined to hit 12-of-14 from the field and 17-of-19 from the line to each top the 20-point plateau on the night, helping lift the Aggies to an, 83-75, victory over Cal Poly and tie the program's Division I Era mark with their seventh straight victory on Wednesday night at The Pavilion.
UC Davis improved to 20-6 overall on the year and 11-2 in Big West Conference play, posting the third 20-win season at the Division I level and the first since the Aggies finished 24-9, won the Big West Tournament, and earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament, in 2010-11.
"That was a tough win," Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. "I thought that my team did a really nice job of not backing down and battling for the entire game, coming up with huge plays when we needed them, and finding ways to get us some stops and some momentum in the second half."
The seven consecutive wins tied the Division I Era mark established from Feb. 2-23, 2008, and matched two years later from Jan. 4-28, 2010. An eighth straight victory would be the program's longest since UC Davis won nine-in-a-row from Jan. 19-Feb. 23, 2006.
Led by Hannah Gilbert's double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds, the Mustangs fell to 10-16 overall and 6-8 in league play, also getting a team-high 23 points from Dynn Leaupepe.
Gianotti, who finished with a game-high 25 points, and Nafekh, who added 22 more, each finished 6-of-7 from the floor, while Gianotti added a perfect 4-for-4 performance from beyond the arc and an unblemished 9-for-9 from the line to go with seven rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes. Nafekh hit both her three-point attempts and added 8-of-10 from the line, grabbing five rebounds, and dishing out three assists in the win.
Wednesday marked the fourth 20-point performances of the season for both Gianotti and Nafekh.
Fresh off a 24-point performance at Hawai'i in her last game, Bertsch added 18 points, four rebounds, and four assists en route to 18 points, hitting 9-of-14 from the floor.
Of Gianotti's game-high total, 21 of those came in the second half as the Aggies broke open what was a two-point game at the break. After trailing by as many as eight points in the second quarter -- the first time UC Davis had trailed since the second quarter against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 28 -- an 8-0 run brought the Aggies all the way back and helped key a 12-6 finish to the opening half, capped by a Bertsch jumper for a 39-37 lead.
The Mustangs clawed back to within a point early in the third quarter and trailed by four with 6:56 to go in the quarter before UC Davis found a rhythm, scoring seven straight to spark a decisive 13-2 burst over a three-minute span that gave the Aggies their largest lead of the night, 62-47, with 3:42 to play.
That was not the end of Cal Poly, however, as Gilbert scored six of the final eight points of the period as part of an 8-0 Mustang run, making it a seven-point game heading into the final quarter. A free throw by Lynn Leaupepe extended the run to start the fourth, but that would be as close as Cal Poly would come the rest of the way.
An 13-4 spurt from the Aggies rebuilt their lead to 15 with 4:48 to play and the home team hit six straight free throws down the stretch to answer the Mustangs' charge, finishing with the most points in a game since they scored 89 at UC Irvine in the conference opener on Jan. 5.
UC Davis shot 52 percent from the field for the game, including 8-of-12 (.667) in the second quarter and a 58 percent clip in the third, en route to the win. The Aggies also hit 10-of-19 (.526) from beyond the arc -- the highest since making 8-of-14 (.571) from long distance against UC Riverside on Jan. 26 -- and 19-of-21 (.905) from the line, the most since making 25-of-27 (.926) against Sacramento State on Dec. 18.
At the other end, Cal Poly hit 43 percent from the field and 14-of-15 (.933) from the line, but was able to sink only 3-of-11 from distance.
"I honestly feel like we can keep getting better, and that's the exciting thing," Gross said. "The last couple of games I felt like we had to rely on our defense to win it for us, holding teams to the low 50s, but Cal Poly came in and made some shots and we had to put some points on the board. We can find different ways to win and that's exciting."
Now with 11 victories in 13 chances at The Pavilion this season, UC Davis looks to tie the Division I Era mark for the most wins at home in a single season (12-3 in 2010-11) on "Senior Day" Saturday (Feb. 25) when the Aggies host UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m.
UC DAVIS 83, CAL POLY 75
CAL POLY (10-16, 6-8 BWC)
Leaupepe, Dynn 9-24 5-5 23; Gilbert, Hannah 10-15 0-0 20; Leaupepe, Lynn 5-12 3-4 14; Lovely, Amanda 2-3 2-2 6; Grupalo, Gabby 2-5 0-0 5; Anderson, Emily 1-1 0-0 3; Evans, Mary Kate 0-0 2-2 2; Nunnelley, Katie 0-0 2-2 2; Fausey, Nikki 0-2 0-0 0; Wong, Kelly 0-0 0-0 0; Stahley, Dye 0-2 0-0 0; Holt, Breezi 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 29-67 14-15 75.
UC DAVIS (20-6, 11-2 BWC)
Gianotti, Pele 6-7 9-9 25; Nafekh, Dani 6-7 8-10 22; Bertsch, Morgan 9-14 0-0 18; Nagel, Rachel 2-10 2-2 7; Eaton, Kourtney 2-6 0-0 5; Eaton, Karley 1-3 0-0 3; Song, Sophia 1-3 0-0 3; Anderson, Marly 0-2 0-0 0; Bessolo, Nina 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-52 19-21 83.
Cal Poly...................... 22 15 18 20 - 75
UC Davis...................... 16 23 23 21 - 83
3-point goals--Cal Poly 3-11 (Grupalo, Gabby 1-2; Anderson, Emily 1-1; Leaupepe, Lynn 1-4; Holt, Breezi 0-2; Lovely, Amanda 0-1; Leaupepe, Dynn 0-1), UC Davis 10-19 (Gianotti, Pele 4-4; Nafekh, Dani 2-2; Nagel, Rachel 1-6; Eaton, Kourtney 1-4; Eaton, Karley 1-1; Song, Sophia 1-2). Fouled out--Cal Poly-Leaupepe, Lynn, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--Cal Poly 36 (Gilbert, Hannah 12), UC Davis 28 (Gianotti, Pele 7). Assists--Cal Poly 14 (Stahley, Dye 4), UC Davis 16 (Bertsch, Morgan 4). Total fouls--Cal Poly 21, UC Davis 12. Technical fouls--Cal Poly-None, UC Davis-None. A-1107