DAVIS, Calif. — UC Davis senior Pele Gianotti tied a career high with 26 points to lead three players in double figures, but the Aggies were unable to overcome a hot-shooting night by host UC Riverside, which hit 50 percent from the field overall en route to a, 76-62, victory on Saturday evening at the SRC Arena.
The loss ended UC Davis’ six-game winning streak, falling to 24-5 overall and 14-2 in the Big West Conference. The two-time league regular season champion and top-seeded Aggies now await their opponent in the semifinals of next week’s Big West Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., tipping off at noon.
Led by a pair of 20-point nights from Lauren Holt (23) and Michelle Curry (20), the Highlanders improved to 9-21 overall and 6-10 in conference play, finishing with four players in double figures.
Gianotti, a political science major, finished a career-best 10-of-16, logging her eighth career 20-point game and her second this year after scoring 21 points at home against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 24. She added three rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes, moving into 12th place on the all-time scoring list in the process, jumping past Colleen Turnbull and Lisa Jo Kellogg and entering the tournament with 1,166 points to her name.
Sophomore communication major Nina Bessolo came off the bench to score 16 points and grab five rebounds in 22 minutes, finishing 5-of-7 from the field and hitting three from beyond the arc. Junior Morgan Bertsch finished with 12 points on just 3-of-6 from the field and blocking three shots before being whistled for her fifth foul in the fourth quarter.
The biomedical engineering major logged her 29th double-digit game of the season, tying the program’s Division I record set by Paige Mintun in 2010-11 and matched by Bertsch last year. It was also the 79th such performance of her career, putting her just one behind Sydnee Fipps for the program’s Division I career record.
Both teams were hot from the field out of the gate, shooting better than 60 percent from the field, but the different came from beyond the arc as UC Riverside drained 3-of-4 in the opening period en route to a four-point lead, and finished hitting 6-of-9 from long range in the first half to build a, 43-34, lead at the break.
Meanwhile the Highlanders’ defense locked down the league’s top offense after UC Davis hit 9-of-14 from the field in the first quarter, limiting the Aggies to just 12 makes from the floor the rest of the way, holding them to just 32 percent (12-for-37) over the final three quarters combined.
UC Davis clawed its way back after falling behind by 12 points with 4:31 to play in the third quarter, using a quick 7-0 burst capped by a corner three-pointer from Dani Nafekh to make it 52-47 with 2:37 to go in the period. However, a three-point play by Curry sparked a 6-0 run to close the quarter from UCR to make the lead 11 points once again, and the Highlanders led by as many as 14 points at one point in the fourth quarter en route to the final advantage, holding the Aggies to a single field goal over the final six minutes of the game.
Riverside held a, 38-27, advantage on the boards and turned 12 UC Davis turnovers into 16 points en route to the win.
UC RIVERSIDE 76, UC DAVIS 62
UC DAVIS (24-5, 14-2)
Gianotti, Pele 10-16 3-7 26; Bessolo, Nina 5-7 3-3 16; Bertsch, Morgan 3-6 6-8 12; Nafekh, Dani 2-9 0-0 5; Hall, Cierra 1-5 0-0 2; Song, Sophia 0-1 1-2 1; Hsu, Kaitlyn 0-1 0-0 0; Anderson, Marly 0-3 0-0 0; Nagel, Rachel 0-0 0-0 0; Eaton, Karley 0-1 0-0 0; Eaton, Kourtney 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-51 13-20 62.
UC RIVERSIDE (9-21, 6-10)
Lauren Holt 8-14 2-2 23; Michelle Curry 8-16 4-4 20; Marina Ewodo 4-9 2-2 11; Jannon Otto 4-7 2-2 10; Keilanei Cooper 2-2 3-6 8; Clemence Lefebvre 1-1 0-0 2; Tianna Eaton 1-6 0-0 2; Inara Nyingifa 0-1 0-0 0; Jalyn Clay 0-0 0-0 0; Skyler Lewis 0-0 0-0 0; Malou de Kergret 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 13-16 76.
UC Davis...................... 22 12 13 15 - 62
UC Riverside.................. 26 17 15 18 - 76
3-point goals--UC Davis 7-19 (Gianotti, Pele 3-6; Bessolo, Nina 3-5; Nafekh, Dani 1-5; Song, Sophia 0-1; Anderson, Marly 0-1; Eaton, Kourtney 0-1), UC Riverside 7-12 (Lauren Holt 5-7; Keilanei Cooper 1-1; Marina Ewodo 1-3; Michelle Curry 0-1). Fouled out--UC Davis-Bertsch, Morgan; Hall, Cierra, UC Riverside-Marina Ewodo. Rebounds--UC Davis 27 (Bessolo, Nina 5), UC Riverside 38 (Michelle Curry 7). Assists--UC Davis 14 (Nafekh, Dani 4), UC Riverside 19 (Michelle Curry 7). Total fouls--UC Davis 20, UC Riverside 18. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, UC Riverside-None. A-362
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.