RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Sophomore Morgan Bertsch took a pass from Kourtney Eaton, leapt into the lane and banked it in off the glass with 1.1 seconds remaining, breaking a 59-all tie and helping lift UC Davis to a share of the Big West Conference title and give Head Coach Jennifer Gross her 100th victory on Thursday night, 61-59, over UC Riverside at the SRC Arena.
The Aggies improved to 22-6 overall and 13-2 in league play, securing a pair of byes into the semifinals for next week's Big West Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and holding on to their one-game lead in the standings with only Saturday's regular season finale at CSUN remaining. The Aggies and Matadors tip-off from The Matadome at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Northridge, Calif.
Led by a game-high 17 points from Michelle Curry, the Highlanders fell to 15-14 overall and 9-7 in conference play with the loss.
Bertsch's game-winner came after UC Riverside erased a nine-point UC Davis lead with 5:51 to play in the game, closing on a 14-5 run until the final basket and tying the game on a three-pointer by Clemence Lefebvre with 47 seconds remaining. After a turnover, Dani Nafekh came up huge on the defensive end, blocking a shot under the basket and tying up the ball to give the Aggies a chance.
On its next possession, UC Davis missed on a three-pointer with 23 seconds to go and the Highlanders called their final timeout, advancing the ball to mid court. Again, the Aggies came up with a stop when they needed it, as Pele Gianotti knocked the ball away from Malou De Kergret and UC Davis was able to call its final timeout with 2.9 to play.
With the ball positioned just to the left of the bench, Kourtney Eaton lobbed the ball into the block to Bertsch, who got behind a pair of defenders and hoisted a ball up off the glass and in, putting the Aggies ahead by two.
Riverside had one last chance as Michelle Curry raced across the timeline and heaved a ball from the logo that missed wide right as time expired, sealing UC Davis' win.
Bertsch finished with a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds, adding three blocked shots in 24 minutes. Kourtney Eaton added a career-high 15 points and four assists, while junior Pele Gianotti added 12 more to go with five rebounds and a pair of steals.
De Kergret added 13 more points for the Highlanders, while Skyler Lewis finished with a game-high nine rebounds.