DAVIS, Calif. -- Junior Rachel Nagel floated home the game winner at the buzzer to cap an 18-point night, leading three teammates in double figures, and lifting host UC Davis to a thrilling, 68-66, win over Saint Mary's on Sunday afternoon in front of a season-high 883 fans at The Pavilion.
The Aggies improved to 6-2 overall with the victory, holding off a hard-charging Gaels squad that used a 10-2 run down the stretch to tie the game at 66 and set-up Nagel's last-second heroics. Saint Mary's fell to 4-5 overall with the loss, led by Carly Turner's team-high 18 points.
Both teams missed three-point attempts in the final minute, but a turnover on a pass inside with nine seconds remaining gave the ball back to UC Davis with a chance to win it. With the ball advanced to the front court and the Gaels with fouls to give, Saint Mary's was able to whittle the clock down to four seconds and one final inbounds pass.
The ball found the hands of sophomore Morgan Bertsch, who curled to the free throw line before help came on the defensive end. Bertsch was able to shovel a pass to a cutting Nagel, who rainbowed a right-handed shot over a leaping Megan McKay and through as time expired, giving the Aggies the two-point victory.
Nagel finished 7-for-13 overall from the field, including a quartet of three-pointers, to finish with 18 points and a team-high six rebounds. She added three assists and a steal in 32 minutes, reaching double figures for the first time since her 21-point night against Montana State on Nov. 23.
Bertsch finished 8-of-15 from the floor to finish with a game-high 19 points and a career high-tying four blocks, reaching double figures for the 16th consecutive game dating back to last season. She was joined in double figures by juniors Pele Gianotti and Dani Nafekh, who finished with 10 points apiece.
Carrying a three-point lead back out onto the court after the break, the two teams traded scores to start the quarter, with the Aggies unable to build more than a four-point advantage. A Nagel three-pointer keyed an 11-2 burst midway through the quarter, helping UC Davis to its largest lead of the game -- an 11-point, 56-45, advantage -- with 2:34 to go in the period.
The Aggies led by nine just two minutes into the fourth before Saint Mary's began to chip away, using a 6-0 spurt before a jumper by Bertsch stopped the bleeding. A three-pointer by Turner, however, and a basket inside by McKay drew the Gaels even with 2:57 to play, but that would be the final points for Saint Mary's on the day.
UC Davis shot 46 percent from the floor for the game, including nine three-pointers, while committing a season-low 11 turnovers. The Gaels, who held a 44-27 advantage on the boards, shot 43 percent and out-scored the Aggies, 48-28, in the paint.
After a Nafekh buzzer-beater to end the first quarter gave them the lead, the Aggies trailed by as many as eight points midway through the second after a 7-0 Saint Mary's run threatened to break open a one-point game, giving the Gaels a 34-26 advantage with 4:56 to go.
A turnaround jumper by Marly Anderson ended the skid and a three by Gianotti on the team's next trip down the court inched UC Davis closer as the defense stepped up and forced three straight Saint Mary's turnovers on its next three possessions and held the Gaels to without a field goal for the final five minutes as a free throw by Shannon Mauldin was the only offense for Saint Mary's down the stretch.
Meanwhile, the Aggies continued to apply the pressure as a give-and-go between Kourtney and Karley Eaton made it a two-point game and Bertsch rainbowed a jumper from the right side to tie the game at 35 with less than a minute to play. The sophomore from Santa Rosa, Calif., would then be the one to give UC Davis the lead as her "and one" with three ticks left on the clock sent the Aggies into the locker room up three, 38-35.
Sunday marked the final home game of the calendar year for UC Davis, which contests its next six games away from the friendly confines beginning on Wednesday (Dec. 14) at nationally ranked Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.
UC DAVIS 68, SAINT MARY'S 66
SAINT MARY'S (4-5)
TURNER, Carly 7-14 0-0 18; McKAY, Megan 6-11 1-1 13; BECK, Stella 6-14 0-0 12; RAGGIO, Sydney 5-9 2-4 12; BROOKSHIRE, Devon 5-10 0-0 10; MAULDIN, Shannon 0-3 1-2 1; RATHBUN, Katie 0-0 0-0 0; MOE, Tyra 0-0 0-0 0; GALLAND, Devyn 0-4 0-0 0; FORCADILLA, Jasmine 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-67 4-7 66.
UC DAVIS (6-2)
Bertsch, Morgan 8-15 3-5 19; Nagel, Rachel 7-13 0-0 18; Gianotti, Pele 3-6 2-2 10; Nafekh, Dani 4-12 0-0 10; Eaton, Kourtney 3-6 2-2 9; Anderson, Marly 1-3 0-0 2; Beyer, Lauren 0-0 0-0 0; Bessolo, Nina 0-1 0-0 0; Eaton, Karley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-57 7-9 68.
Saint Mary's.................. 19 16 16 15 - 66
UC Davis...................... 20 18 20 10 - 68
3-point goals--Saint Mary's 4-15 (TURNER, Carly 4-7; BECK, Stella 0-1; BROOKSHIRE, Devon 0-2; MAULDIN, Shannon 0-1; GALLAND, Devyn 0-4), UC Davis 9-23 (Nagel, Rachel 4-7; Gianotti, Pele 2-4; Nafekh, Dani 2-8; Eaton, Kourtney 1-3; Eaton, Karley 0-1). Fouled out--Saint Mary's-None, UC Davis-Gianotti, Pele. Rebounds--Saint Mary's 44 (McKAY, Megan 11), UC Davis 27 (Nagel, Rachel 6). Assists--Saint Mary's 15 (TURNER, Carly 6), UC Davis 18 (Nafekh, Dani 4; Bertsch, Morgan 4). Total fouls--Saint Mary's 11, UC Davis 12. Technical fouls--Saint Mary's-None, UC Davis-None. A-883