DAVIS, Calif. -- UC Davis junior Rachel Nagel set career highs with 21 points and 11 rebounds en route to her first career double-double, leading two teammates in double figures and helping the Aggies outlast visiting Montana State, 70-62, to remain unbeaten on the season on Wednesday night at The Pavilion.
The victory improved UC Davis to 4-0 on the season, continuing the program's best start since the 2011-12 squad opened 5-0, and the third time the program has opened 4-0 since its first official Division I season in 2007-08.
"Montana State is an excellent team, they are extremely well-coached, they execute their offense very well, we couldn't pull away from them," Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. "I was really pleased, though, once we got that 10-point lead we kept that lead. Even though we couldn't push it out further, we didn't relinquish it, and I was really proud of our team for making some big shots and getting some key stops down the stretch."
Led by a team-high 21 points from Peyton Ferris and a double-double from Riley Nordgaard, the Bobcats fell to 1-3 overall on the season, shooting just 31 percent from the field -- including a 22 percent clip in the first half.
Nagel hit 6-of-11 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the line en route to her career night, surpassing her previous career bests of 20 points, last accomplished against Cal State Fullerton last season, and eight rebounds, set earlier this year against Portland on Nov. 11. Sophomore Morgan Bertsch also had a busy night from the floor, finishing 8-of-13 from the field and adding five assists to go with four rebounds in 32 minutes, while junior Dani Nafekh added 13 points and three assists.
Trailing by five early in the first quarter, the Aggies responded with a 7-0 run, capped by a floater from Nagel to regain a lead they would not relinquish, 14-12, with just over a minute to play. A 9-0 run midway through the second quarter gave UC Davis some breathing room with an 11-point lead and another 6-0 burst put the home team up by 13 -- its largest of the game -- with just over a minute to play to carry a, 37-26, advantage into the locker room at the break.
Montana State adjusted and rebounded quickly from its poor shooting first half, whittling the Aggies' lead back to single digits late in the third thanks to a 57 percent shooting performance in the period, scoring nine of the final 13 points in the quarter to close to within seven at, 54-47. However, a basket by Bertsch and a three by Nafekh pushed the UC Davis lead back out to double digits at the start of the fourth, and the Aggies eventually led by as many as 14 points midway through the quarter.
Even that lead wasn't safe, however, as the Bobcats put together one last rally, using a 7-0 run to cut the deficit in half, and they closed to within five points with less than a minute to go on a three-pointer by Ferris with 1:16 to play, but the visitors would come no closer. The two teams traded baskets on their next possessions before UC Davis finished off the visitors, hitting 5-of-6 from the line -- for of those by Nagel -- to close out the victory.
UC Davis shot 48 percent from the floor for the game, including a 60 percent clip in the second quarter, but failed to finish with four-or-more players in double figures for the first time this season. Montana State held a, 43-38, advantage on the boards, including a 17-5 lead on the offensive end, while the Aggies collected a season high-tying seven blocks on the night -- a career-high three of those by junior Marly Anderson and two more from freshman Nina Bessolo, who capped off a well-rounded night with nine points and six rebounds off the bench.
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the Aggies return to the court on Sunday (Nov. 27) for a matinee clash against Hofstra at The Pavilion. Tip off is scheduled for 1 p.m.
UC DAVIS 70, MONTANA STATE 62
MONTANA STATE (1-3 Overall)
FERRIS, Peyton 7-13 6-8 21; NORDGAARD, Riley 3-11 4-4 11; BRAXTON, Blaire 2-2 3-4 7; JUNKERMIER, Delany 3-13 0-0 6; CAUDILL, Hannah 3-13 0-0 6; SQUIRES, Oliana 1-5 0-0 3; LAI, Annika 1-7 1-5 3; BARHOUM, Margreet 1-1 1-2 3; SMITH, Madeline 1-3 0-0 2; HATCHARD, Rebekah 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-70 15-23 62.
UC DAVIS (4-0 Overall)
Nagel, Rachel 6-11 9-10 21; Bertsch, Morgan 8-13 1-2 17; Nafekh, Dani 5-9 1-3 13; Bessolo, Nina 3-4 2-4 9; Gianotti, Pele 3-8 0-0 8; Anderson, Marly 1-3 0-0 2; Beyer, Lauren 0-0 0-0 0; Eaton, Karley 0-1 0-0 0; Eaton, Kourtney 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 13-19 70.
Montana State................. 12 14 21 15 - 62
UC Davis...................... 14 23 17 16 - 70
3-point goals--Montana State 3-24 (SQUIRES, Oliana 1-3; NORDGAARD, Riley 1-5; FERRIS, Peyton 1-2; CAUDILL, Hannah 0-6; LAI, Annika 0-1; SMITH, Madeline 0-1; HATCHARD, Rebekah 0-1; JUNKERMIER, Delany 0-5), UC Davis 5-17 (Gianotti, Pele 2-3; Nafekh, Dani 2-3; Bessolo, Nina 1-2; Eaton, Karley 0-1; Eaton, Kourtney 0-4; Nagel, Rachel 0-4). Fouled out--Montana State-NORDGAARD, Riley, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--Montana State 43 (NORDGAARD, Riley 12), UC Davis 38 (Nagel, Rachel 11). Assists--Montana State 13 (CAUDILL, Hannah 6), UC Davis 13 (Bertsch, Morgan 5). Total fouls--Montana State 22, UC Davis 19. Technical fouls--Montana State-None, UC Davis-Team. A-322