Battle for Big West title begins in Southern California

Jan. 3, 2018

UC Davis (10-3, 0-0 Big West) at UC Irvine (8-6, 0-0 Big West)
Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. | Bren Events Center | Irvine, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong… ANALYST: Max Agress)
FOLLOW: Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | UC Davis Notes | UC Irvine Notes

Hawai'i (7-6, 0-0 Big West) at UC Davis (10-3, 0-0 Big West)
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 | 2:00 p.m. | The Pavilion | Davis, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong… ANALYST: Max Agress)
FOLLOW: Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | UC Davis Notes | Hawai'i Notes

TIP-OFF: The road to a second consecutive Big West Conference regular season title begins in Southern California for the UC Davis women’s basketball team, as the Aggies head to Orange County to take on UC Irvine, before coming home for the first time in nearly three weeks, hosting Hawai’i at The Pavilion. UC Davis meets the Anteaters on Thursday (Jan. 4) at the Bren Center at 7 p.m., before welcoming the Rainbow Wahine to Northern California on Saturday (Jan. 6) for a 2 p.m. tip off.

AGGIES DROP TO 12TH IN MID-MAJOR POLL: Following a 1-1 trip to New York last week, UC Davis opened the new year at No. 12 in the latest Mid-Major poll released on Tuesday (Jan. 2). Having reached as high as No. 5 for two consecutive weeks (Dec. 12 and Dec. 19), the Aggies have been ranked among the top 25 of the College Insider poll every week this season, debuting at No. 20 in the preseason poll and opening a run of five consecutive weeks in the top 10 on Nov. 28.

Tracking the Aggies in the poll
Preseason - No. 20
Nov. 14 - No. 17
Nov. 21 - No. 11
Nov. 28 - No. 8
Dec. 5 - No. 8
Dec. 12 - No. 5
Dec. 19 - No. 5
Dec. 26 - No. 7
Jan. 2 - No. 12

AGGIES PACE BIG WEST IN THE RPI: After reaching as high as No. 42 in the nation in the RPI at one point this season, the Aggies continue to pace their Big West sistren as of Jan. 2, ranking 54th in the RPI to stand as the only Big West team in the top 100 thus far (Hawai’i is second at No. 182). The No. 42 ranking this season was the highest that UC Davis had been ranked in the RPI dating back to Dec. 29, when the Aggies stood 40th in the nation.

BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in UC Davis athletics by “liking” us on Facebook ( and following us on Twitter (@UCDavisAggies). You can also “like” the women’s basketball program ( as well as follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@ UCDavisWBB). In-game updates on game day are also available on Twitter by following @UCDavisWBB.

LEAGUE LID-LIFTERS: Since making the move to Division I in 2007-08, UC Davis is 4-6 in Big West openers, having won three straight following last year’s, 89-48, win over UC Irvine on the road... The Aggies are 3-4 when opening league play away from home, and will open conference play on the road for the fourth straight season -- and the fifth time in the six years... UC Davis and UC Irvine will open Big West play against one another for the second hie in the history of the programs following last year’s clash in Orange County... The Anteaters are only one of four current league members that the Aggies have opened Big West play against, joining Cal State Fullerton (0-3), CSUN (3-1), and UC Riverside (0-1), while falling to former member Pacific to tip-off the 2012-13 season... The 41-point margin of victory against the Anteaters last season is the largest for UC Davis in a Big West opener.

IT’S A START: The only Big West school with double digits in the win column, UC Davis heads into conference play with 10 victories already this season -- the most since the Aggies were 10-2 to start the 2010-11 season.

SCOUTING UC IRVINE: The streaking Anteaters enter the opening weekend of Big West play with an 8-6 overall record, having won three straight -- and six of their last seven -- after opening the season with five losses in their first seven games... UC Irvine rang in the new year with a, 72-59, win on the road at CSU Bakersfield, with only an overtime loss to Portland State breaking up what could have been a seven-game winning streak... No UC Irvine player is averaging double figures as the Anteaters have spread out the scoring load, paced by sophomore guard Lauren Saiki, who is averaging 8.3 ppg and shooting 48 percent from the floor... Freshman forward Tahlia Garza paces UCI on the boards, averaging 6.1 caroms per contest... Irvine is averaging 70.1 ppg and shooting .396 from the field as a team, while holding opponents to 70.8 ppg and a .408 field goal percentage.

SERIES NOTES: UC Davis leads the all-time series with UC Irvine, 25-8, according to records that date back to the 1973-74 season, and are 16-7 against the Anteaters in the program’s Division I era... The Aggies have won the last five consecutive meetings, sweeping the regular season series with an, 89-49, win on the road and a, 62-42, victory at home last year... UC Irvine hasn’t posted a win in the series since a, 71-62, victory in the regular season finale of the 2014-15 season -- the last in a stretch that saw the Anteaters win seven of nine... UC Davis is 11-3 on the road against UC Irvine, winning the last three trips to the Bren Events Center.

SCOUTING HAWAI’I: The Rainbow Wahine enter the week with a 7-6 overall record, heading to Southern California to take on Cal State Fullerton in their Big West opener on Thursday before racing the Aggies back to Northern California for Saturday’s contest... Hawai’i rang in the new year with a, 67-57, win over Hawai’i Pacific on Dec. 30, just a week after taking on a pair of top-25 schools in No. 19 Texas A&M (L, 103-59) and No. 10 Oregon (L, 85-44)... Senior guard Sarah Toeaina leads a trio of Rainbow Wahine in double figures, averaging 13.9 ppg and shooting .551 from the floor... Sophomore guard Julissa Tago (10.8 ppg) and junior forward Lahni Salanoa (10.1 ppg) are also in double figures... Hawai’i is averaging 64.8 ppg and shooting .417 from the floor as a team, holding opponents to 70.9 ppg and .431 from the field entering the week.

SERIES NOTES: Hawai’i leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 8-6, according to records dating back to the 1975-76 season... The Aggies have won the last two meetings, however, sweeping the regular season series from the Rainbow Wahine last season with a, 70-55, win at home, and a, 69-50, victory in Honolulu... UC Davis is 3-2 against Hawai’i at The Pavilion, winning the last two games played in Northern California... The Aggies’ 19-point win on the road last season was their second-largest in the series, trailing only a, 73-52, win in Honolulu on Nov. 17, 2007.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A POINT MAKES: UC Davis is a perfect 9-0 this season when scoring 70 points or more, but is just 1-3 when limited to 69-or-fewer. The Aggies’ only victory when held to under 70 points came back on Nov. 12, when they posted a, 69-64, win against Pepperdine.

ONE FOR YOU... AND ONE FOR YOU: After scoring a game-high 17 points against Yale, senior Rachel Nagel tied a career high with five assists 24 hours later against Fordham, adding eight points en route to all-tournament honors at the Fordham Holiday Classic. The 17 points against the Bulldogs marked the seventh time this season the psychology major reached double figures and the first since she scored 12 points against Sacramento State.

OH, SAY CAN YOU “CIERRA”?: The Aggies’ trip to New York was a good one for freshman Cierra Hall, who came up with a pair of double-digit scoring performances off the bench to help power UC Davis -- the second and third such performances of her career. She opened the week with a career-high 15 points and narrowly missed out on her first career double-double by tying her career best with nine rebounds against Yale, then added 10 points, three rebounds, and a pair of blocks against host Fordham. She hit 8-of-12 (.750) from the field, including a career-best 5-for-8 against the Bulldogs.

QUEEN OF THE QUARTER: Junior forward Morgan Bertsch finished with 11 of the team’s 17 points in the opening quarter of the Aggies’ game at Fordham on Dec. 29 -- tied for the most by a UC Davis player in a single quarter (her 11 points in the third against Pepperdine and 11 by Rachel Nagel in the third against Portland State) and the 10th time that an Aggie has finished with double-digit points in a quarter this season. Of those 10 times, Bertsch has finished with eight of them against Pepperdine (3rd & 4th quarters), Portland State (3rd), at Pacific (1st & 3rd), at Southern Utah (2nd), at Seattle (1st), and at Fordham (1st). Aside from Bertsch and Nagel, only senior Pele Gianotti has also accomplished the feat, scoring 10 points in the second quarter at Pacific. Since the NCAA went to four quarters during the 2015-16 season, Gianotti holds the program record for points in a quarter with 13 in the fourth against Cal Poly on Feb. 22, 2017.

BOARDING TOWARD A BENCHMARK: Entering the week just 46 points shy of becoming the 19th player (and second this season) to reach 1,000 for her career, senior political science major Pele Gianotti is quickly approaching another milestone, needing just five more rebounds to become only the fifth player in the program’s Division I history to reach 500 for a career. Following her third nine-rebound performance in her last four games at No. 17 Oregon State, Gianotti could become only the fourth player in the program’s Division I history to hit 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds, joining Alyson Doherty (2012-16), Paige Mintun (2007-11), and Sydnee Fipps (2011-15).

DOUBLE-DIGIT DAMAGE: After tying the school’s Division I single-season record with 29 games with 10-or-more points, Bertsch is back at it again with 13 such performances in the Aggies’ first 13 games -- giving her 63 for her career and solidifying her hold on fourth place on the school’s Division I career list, just eight back of Paige Mintun. Teammates Pele Gianotti (47) and Rachel Nagel (36) also rank sixth and seventh, respectively, on that same career list, all chasing record-holder Sydnee Fipps, who collected 80 career games with double digits in the scoring column from 2011-15.

MISS CONSISTENTCY: Bertsch’s 13 consecutive double-digit scoring performances to start this season rank as the fourth-longest such streak in the program’s Division I history -- and the ninth of 10 games or longer in that stretch. The biomedical engineering major from Santa Rosa, Calif., holds the program’s Division I record with 23 consecutive double-digit scoring games over parts of two seasons from Feb. 18, 2016, to Jan. 5, 2017.

BERTSCH BLOCKS: For the third time in her last four games -- and the fifth time overall in 2017-18 -- Bertsch finished with three blocks at Fordham on Dec. 29, averaging 2.8 blocks per game in that stretch and collecting her 18th game of at least three blocks.

CENTURY MARK: Already the fifth Aggie to reach the century mark in career blocks at Seattle on Nov. 26, Bertsch’s performance in New York, gave her 116 for her career, solidifying her hold on fourth place on the school’s all-time list. Bertsch, who set the school single-season record with 57 swats last season, needs just three more to match Kendall Greene (1992-96) for third and is well-within striking distance of career record holder Paige Mintun (2006-11) and her 150 blocks.

DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP): Yale became the ninth team this season held to under 38 percent shooting from the field by the UC Davis defense, as the Aggies have allowed only four opponents (Washington State, Portland State, UCF, and Fordham) to shoot higher than that mark. The Aggies enter the week continuing to lead the Big West in scoring defense (62.2 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.363), and three-point percentage defense (.312).

MOVIN’ ON UP: Thanks to her 29 points in two games in New York last week, Bertsch held steady at No. 10 on the all-time list, entering this week’s games in New York with 1,228 points to her name. The biomedical engineering major from Santa Rosa, Calif., needs just 15 more points to match UC Davis Head Coach Jennifer Gross (1,243 career points) for No. 9 on the list, with Aimee Connor (1989-93) and Ellen Porshneva (2003-06, 2007-08) just a combined 18 points beyond that for No. 7 all time.

SWAT TEAM: Just one year after setting the school’s single-season record with 129 team blocks, the Aggies have picked up right where they left off, ranking second in the Big West entering the week at 4.7 bpg, while collecting at least four blocks for the 10th time in 13 games in New York. UC Davis is nearly halfway to last year’s total with 61 swats thus far this season, paced by Bertsch’s 23 and 13 more from senior design major Marly Anderson.

THREEE-CO-LA!: The Aggies enter the week with four of the league’s top six three-point shooters and still stand among the best in the nation from long distance, ranking No. 32 in the NCAA in three-pointers per game (8.7), No. 11 in three-point percentage (.396), and No. 38 in total three’s made (113). Sophomore Nina Bessolo (.444) leads the Big West from beyond the arc, with senior Dani Nafekh (.434) in third, senior Pele Gianotti (.429) in fourth, and senior Rachel Nagel (.418) in sixth.

‘TIS THE SEASON OF GIVING: UC Davis has been the queens of making the extra pass this season, entering the week ranks No. 15 in the nation in assists per game (18.9 apg) and No. 30 in overall assists (246), while ranking No. 25 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3). Meanwhile, Kourtney Eaton enters the week ranked No. 41 in assists per game (5.4), No. 46 in total assists (70), and No. 59 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33).

MAKING GOOD ON THOSE PASSES: A good number of those assists this season have been thanks to the reliable hands of Bertsch, who enters the week ranked tied for No. 9 in the NCAA in made baskets with 117, trailing Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife, who pace the nation with 133 makes from the floor. The junior from Santa Rosa, Calif., also ranks among the top 50 in the nation in points (No. 45) and points per game (No. 33), while standing No. 49 in field goal percentage.