NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- For the second time in the program's Division I history, the Aggies are champions of the Big West Conference's regular season.
UC Davis junior Dani Nafekh finished with a team-high 19 points -- 14 of those coming in the second half -- and the Aggies scored seven of the final nine points over the last 2:10, pulling away from host CSUN for a title-clinching, 63-55, victory over the Matadors on Saturday afternoon at The Matadome.
Finishing the regular season with a 23-6 overall record and a 14-2 mark in league play, UC Davis clinches the top seed in next week's Big West Tournament and the conference's automatic bid to the WNIT. The Aggies, who last won a Big West regular season crown in 2010 before clinching the league's tournament title in 2011, will play in the postseason for the fifth time in 10 seasons as a Division I program and the first since their WNIT bid in 2012.
With a double-bye into the semifinals of the Big West Tournament, UC Davis will open against the lowest remaining seed on Friday (March 10) at Noon at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and will be streamed live on ESPN3.com. Saturday's championship game will tip-off at 4 p.m. and be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
The Aggies have now won their last 10 straight games, continuing to establish a new benchmark for consecutive victories in the program's Division I Era and posting their longest winning streak since they won 14 straight during the 1998-99 season.
Led by a double-double from Channon Fluker, who scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds before fouling out, CSUN finished the regular season at 17-13 overall and 10-6 in the Big West, locking down the No. 3 seed in the tournament and earning a bye into the quarterfinal round.
Held to just five points on 2-of-5 from the floor in the first half, Nafekh came alive after the break, hitting 5-of-7 from the field and draining five three-pointers overall en route to her team-high total, adding five rebounds on the day.
Sophomore Morgan Bertsch also finished in double figures, fighting for 12 points on 6-of-12 from the floor and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Kourtney Eaton and Rachel Nagel finished with game-high honors on the glass with six rebounds apiece, while Eaton and Pele Gianotti shared game-high honors with four assists each.
In a contest that featured nine ties and 11 lead changes, the Aggies took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Kourtney Eaton just seconds into the fourth quarter, but UC Davis found itself even with CSUN at 51-all with 4:56 to play. Nafekh's fifth three-pointer of the day broke the deadlock 17 seconds later, and she followed up with a free throw line jumper two possessions later for a five-point lead.
Eliza Matthews answered with a drive to the basket at the other end to bring the Matadors back to within three, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way. Bertsch finished inside and Rachel Nagel added two more from the line to push the Aggies' advantage out to seven points with 1:34 to play, keying the final kick.
Fluker scored inside after a turnover, but UC Davis -- which shot just under 64 percent from the field in the fourth quarter -- hit 3-of-4 from the stripe to ice the victory, as the defense forced a Matador miss on four of their final five possessions.
The Aggies shot just under 40 percent from the floor for the game, but held CSUN to just 33 percent for the contest -- including a 26 percent clip in the first half en route to a 29-25 advantage.
UC DAVIS 63, CSUN 55
UC DAVIS (23-6, 14-2 BWC)
Nafekh, Dani 7-12 0-0 19; Bertsch, Morgan 6-14 0-2 12; Anderson, Marly 4-10 0-0 8; Gianotti, Pele 2-10 2-2 7; Nagel, Rachel 1-5 4-4 7; Eaton, Kourtney 2-5 1-2 7; Song, Sophia 1-1 0-0 3; Beyer, Lauren 0-1 0-0 0; Eaton, Karley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-58 7-10 63.
CSUN (17-13, 10-6 BWC)
Fluker, Channon 10-23 3-5 24; Maulupe, Serafina 3-8 2-2 10; Boagni, Tessa 4-8 1-1 9; Matthews, Eliza 4-9 0-0 8; Allen, Cheyenne 1-11 0-0 2; Ramos, Claudia 1-3 0-0 2; Tanabe, Hayley 0-3 0-0 0; Cole, Emily 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 23-69 6-8 55.
UC Davis...................... 14 15 12 22 - 63
CSUN.......................... 15 10 15 15 - 55
3-point goals--UC Davis 10-23 (Nafekh, Dani 5-6; Eaton, Kourtney 2-5; Nagel, Rachel 1-3; Gianotti, Pele 1-7; Song, Sophia 1-1; Anderson, Marly 0-1), CSUN 3-13 (Maulupe, Serafina 2-4; Fluker, Channon 1-1; Allen, Cheyenne 0-1; Ramos, Claudia 0-1; Tanabe, Hayley 0-1; Cole, Emily 0-4; Boagni, Tessa 0-1). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, CSUN-Fluker, Channon. Rebounds--UC Davis 38 (Eaton, Kourtney 6; Nagel, Rachel 6), CSUN 46 (Fluker, Channon 15). Assists--UC Davis 15 (Eaton, Kourtney 4; Gianotti, Pele 4), CSUN 12 (Allen, Cheyenne 4). Total fouls--UC Davis 13, CSUN 19. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, CSUN-None. A-305