PULLMAN, Wash. -- UC Davis junior Rachel Nagel shared game-high honors with 20 points in 25 minutes, and the Aggies used a 13-2 run early in the third quarter to whittle a 14-point deficit down to just three points with 4:55 remaining in the period, but host Washington State got the key baskets when it needed, eventually pulling away for a, 71-62, victory on Thursday night in the "Sweet 16" of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Beasley Coliseum.
Closing the book on one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program, UC Davis finishes the year with a 25-8 overall record and a regular season Big West Conference championship, earning the program's first-ever postseason wins at the Division I level. The Aggies won 20 games for the third time in the Division I Era, finishing with the third-highest win total in a single season and setting a record with 14 wins in league play.
The Cougars improved to 15-19 overall, winning for the fifth time in their last six games and advancing to face Iowa in the "Elite Eight" on Sunday.
Nagel finished 7-of-14 from the field 4-of-7 from beyond the arc en route to her final total, recording her second 20-point performance of the season and reaching double figures in each of her team's four postseason games. She also added four rebounds in 25 minutes.
Junior Pele Gianotti finished with 11 points and eight rebounds before leaving with an injury late in the second half and did not return. Sophomore Kourtney Eaton added six points, shared team-high honors with eight rebounds, and dished out seven of her team's 13 assists on the night.
Alexys Swedlund finished with 20 points and nine rebounds to lead a trio of Washington State players in double digits as Pinelopi Pavlopoulou aded 16 points and Caila Hailey chipped in with 13 more.
UC Davis led by as many as five points in the early part of the first quarter, but a 13-4 burst by the Cougars gave them an eight-point advantage at the end of one, and they extended the lead to as many as 16 points on three different occasions in the second quarter before setting on a, 39-26, lead at the break.
The Aggies came out firing in the third quarter, shooting 50 percent in the period to key a comeback that whittled a 15-point deficit down to just six after back-to-back three-pointers from Gianotti and Nafekh midway through the period. After Ivana Kmetovska scored inside to push the lead back to eight, Morgan Bertsch hit a pair from the line and Nafekh drained one of her three triples on the night to make it a three-point game at 45-42 with 4:55 to play.
UC Davis' defense held Washington State to without a field goal for a three-minute burst before Kmetovska scored inside to make it a five-point game and jumpstart a 12-3 run by the host Cougars that made it a 12-point game and they never looked back.
A lay-up by Nagel capped a personal seven-point run for the Aggies to bring them back to within five points and force a Washington State timeout, but the Cougars were just too tough, using a 12-3 run over the next four minutes, hitting 7-of-8 from the line down the stretch to ice the contest.
The Aggies shot .355 from the field for the game, holding Washington State to just a shade under that mark from the floor, and matched their output from beyond the arc from their game at Colorado State with 11 makes from long distance -- including a 50 percent clip (8-of-16) in the second half.
Washington State out-rebounded UC Davis, 49-40, including a 22-11 advantage on the offensive glass that led to a, 17-8, lead in second chance points for the Cougars.
WASHINGTON STATE 71, UC DAVIS 62
UC DAVIS (25-8)
Nagel, Rachel 7-14 2-3 20; Gianotti, Pele 4-6 0-0 11; Nafekh, Dani 3-10 0-0 9; Eaton, Kourtney 3-8 0-0 6; Bertsch, Morgan 2-11 2-2 6; Anderson, Marly 1-4 2-2 4; Bessolo, Nina 1-5 0-0 3; Eaton, Karley 1-1 1-1 3; Song, Sophia 0-3 0-2 0; Beyer, Lauren 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-62 7-10 62.
WASHINGTON STATE (15-19)
Swedlund, Alexys 6-16 4-4 20; Pavlopoulou,Pinelopi 5-15 4-6 16; Hailey, Caila 6-14 0-1 13; Kmetovska, Ivana 2-8 3-7 7; Washington, Kayla 3-5 0-0 6; McKenzie, Krystle 1-1 0-0 3; Muzet, Johanna 1-5 0-0 2; McClure, Nike 1-2 0-0 2; Kostourkova, Maria 0-5 2-2 2. Totals 25-71 13-20 71.
UC Davis...................... 17 9 18 18 - 62
Washington State.............. 25 14 10 22 - 71
3-point goals--UC Davis 11-29 (Nagel, Rachel 4-7; Gianotti, Pele 3-4; Nafekh, Dani 3-7; Bessolo, Nina 1-4; Song, Sophia 0-2; Eaton, Kourtney 0-5), Washington State 8-26 (Swedlund, Alexys 4-10; Pavlopoulou,Pinelopi 2-7; McKenzie, Krystle 1-1; Hailey, Caila 1-4; Muzet, Johanna 0-4). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, Washington State-None. Rebounds--UC Davis 40 (Gianotti, Pele 8; Eaton, Kourtney 8), Washington State 49 (Swedlund, Alexys 9). Assists--UC Davis 13 (Eaton, Kourtney 7), Washington State 13 (Pavlopoulou,Pinelopi 3). Total fouls--UC Davis 17, Washington State 12. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, Washington State-McClure, Nike. A-1456
WNIT 3rd Round Game
Flagrant 1: WSU #21 (5:25, 2Q)