JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After missing Wednesday's game at UCF due to injury, junior Rachel Nagel returned to the floor with a vengeance on Friday afternoon against Jacksonville, finishing with a team-high 16 points to lead two teammates in double figures, but it wasn't enough to offset a big second half by the Dolphins, who rallied for a, 61-54, win at UNF Arena.
The loss snapped the Aggies' three-game winning streak, closing out the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 9-4 record heading into next week's Big West Conference opener in Southern California. Jacksonville improved to 10-4 with the win, led by a 20-point performance from Brandi Buie.
Nagel finished 5-of-9 from the floor, including a pair of three-pointers, and hit all four of her free throws in 33 minutes off the bench. Sophomore Morgan Bertsch continued her string of double-digit scoring performances -- now at 21 consecutive games -- with 12 points and three blocks, the latter moving her into a tie for ninth with Kari Sivesind (1992-96) on the school's career list with 64.
Sophomore Kourtney Eaton reached double figures for the second time this season with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, while junior Pele Gianotti led the way for UC Davis on the boards with a team-high eight to go with six points.
Trailing by one after one period of play, a three-pointer by Nagel keyed an 11-2 burst -- including eight straight at one point -- for the Aggies, who threatened to pull away early. UC Davis, which shot 65 percent from the floor in the first half, limited Jacksonville to just eight points in the second quarter (while scoring 22 of its own), and led, 38-25, at the break.
A jumper by Bertsch to tip off the third quarter gave the Aggies their largest lead of the game at 40-25 just 45 seconds into the period, but that would be the only field goal they would score in the entire quarter. The Dolphins held UC Davis scoreless for the next eight minutes, exploding for a 15-0 run to tie the game, and took their first lead since the end of the first quarter on an "and one" by Christin Mercer with 38 seconds to play.
Two more free throws right before the end of the quarter regained the lead for the Aggies, and a basket inside by Gianotti pushed UC Davis' lead back out to three points just 20 seconds in. Kourtney Eaton's three-pointer erased a one-point deficit with 8:31 to play, but that would be the last time the Aggies would be in front.
A basket inside by Mercer keyed an 11-3 burst for Jacksonville, which built a six-point lead and never looked back. A lay-up by Kourtney Eaton with 38 seconds to play brought the Aggies to within two possessions, but Mercer hit two from the line and Buie added another to ice the game.
After hitting 18-of-29 in the first half, UC Davis was limited to just 5-of-25 (.200) in the second half, but finished shooting 43 percent from the field to just 35 percent for the Dolphins, who shot 45 percent from the floor after the break.
Mercer finished with 19 points and six rebounds to join Buie in double figures, while Kimberly Dawkins added a game-high 11 rebounds to go with eight points. Leading scorer Sherranda Reddick, who entered the game averaging nearly 20 points per game, was shut down by the Aggies' defense, held to just two points on 1-of-12 from the field.
UC Davis now turns its attention to Big West Conference play, which opens on the road at UC Irvine on Thursday (Jan. 5) at 7 p.m., from the Bren Events Center. The Aggies then return home to host Hawai'i (Jan. 7) at 2:30 p.m. at The Pavilion.