Aggies hold off charging Knights, 77-71

Junior Pele Gianotti finished with 15 points, a team-high seven rebounds, and tied a career high with five assists on Wednesday at UCF. (Photo by Wayne Tilcock/Davis Enterprise)
Dec. 28, 2016

Box Score

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sophomore Morgan Bertsch finished with a team-high 20 points to lead a group of four UC Davis players in double figures, and the Aggies shot 64 percent in the fourth quarter to hold off a second-half charge from host UCF for a, 77-71, road victory on Wednesday night at CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla.

UC Davis claimed its third consecutive road win in improving to 9-3 overall on the season, shooting just under 53 percent from the field and putting up 77 points against a scoring defense that ranked No. 6 in the nation, with the Knights allowing just 50.3 ppg entering Wednesday night's contest.

Led by 22 points from leading scorer Zykira Lewis -- 14 of those coming in the second half -- UCF shot just 39 percent from the floor in falling to 10-3 overall, snapping a four-game winning streak and suffering only its second loss at home in eight tries. The 77 points allowed were a season high, surpassing the 67 surrendered in a loss to Virginia Tech back on Nov. 19.

Bertsch finished 9-of-14 from the field en route to her fourth 20-point game of the season (and 14th of her career), adding five rebounds, two blocks, and three steals in 28 minutes. She has scored in double figures in all 12 games for the Aggies this season and in 20 straight games dating back to the final eight contests of last year.

Junior Pele Gianotti added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds to go with a career high-tying five assists, while freshman Sophia Song logged her third consecutive double-digit scoring performance with 12 points and junior Dani Nafekh chipped in 10 points and a team-high six assists.

After leading by six at the break, a 7-0 run to start the third quarter gave the Aggies their largest lead of the game at, 41-28, with 6:37 to play in the period. The two teams traded baskets and UC Davis led by double digits at, 47-35, following a Song three-pointer (her third of the night) two minutes later before the Knights began to chip away.

UCF finished the third quarter on a 10-5 run to make it a seven-point game heading into the final quarter, and got to within three points on five different occasions in the fourth quarter, the last coming with 2:01 to play and the Aggies leading, 70-67, but could not make up the deficit.

A free throw by Nafekh and a basket inside by Gianotti pushed the UC Davis lead back out to six points and the Knights would come no closer than four points the rest of the way. Bertsch and Gianotti each converted a pair of free throws down the stretch to make it a two possession game as the Aggies were able to break the UCF press and run the clock down, allowing only a desperation three at the buzzer that missed wide.

UC Davis led by three points after the first period and threatened to break it open, using a 7-0 run to make it an eight-point game at, 23-15, with 6:37 to play in the first half. UCF got back to within three points before the Aggies scored seven of the next nine on baskets from Gianotti (three-pointer), Nina Bessolo, and Marly Anderson, rebuilt the Aggies' lead back to eight with 1:16 to go. Komeila Wright hit a pair of free throws in the final minute for the final points of the half, sending UC Davis into the locker room ahead, 34-28, at the break.

Following a day off on Thursday, the Aggies make the two-hour trek north to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on Jacksonville University as part of the University of North Florida's Best Western UNF New Year Classic. Tip off on Friday (Dec. 30) is scheduled for 10 a.m. (PT) from UNF Arena.

UC DAVIS 77, UCF 71

UC DAVIS (9-3)
Bertsch, Morgan 9-14 2-2 20; Gianotti, Pele 5-7 4-5 15; Song, Sophia 4-9 0-0 12; Nafekh, Dani 4-7 1-2 10; Anderson, Marly 3-8 1-1 7; Eaton, Karley 2-4 0-0 5; Eaton, Kourtney 2-5 0-0 4; Bessolo, Nina 2-5 0-0 4; Beyer, Lauren 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-59 8-10 77.

UCF (10-3)
LEWIS, Zykira 9-20 2-2 22; GREGORY, Aliyah 8-21 3-3 19; OMOKORE, Tolulope 5-8 2-10 12; MASSEY, Joslyn 4-6 2-3 10; WRIGHT, Korneila 2-11 2-2 6; NDOUR, Fifi 1-7 0-0 2; SHULER, Nyala 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-75 11-20 71.

UC Davis......................   16   18   18   25  -   77
UCF...........................   13   15   17   26  -   71

3-point goals--UC Davis 7-16 (Song, Sophia 4-7; Gianotti, Pele 1-2; Nafekh, Dani 1-2; Eaton, Karley 1-2; Bessolo, Nina 0-1; Eaton, Kourtney 0-2), UCF 2-13 (LEWIS, Zykira 2-10; GREGORY, Aliyah 0-2; WRIGHT, Korneila 0-1). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, UCF-None. Rebounds--UC Davis 39 (Gianotti, Pele 7), UCF 40 (MASSEY, Joslyn 10; OMOKORE, Tolulope 10). Assists--UC Davis 24 (Nafekh, Dani 6), UCF 13 (WRIGHT, Korneila 8). Total fouls--UC Davis 18, UCF 12. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, UCF-TEAM. A-2237