Road trip to Central Coast rivals on deck for women's basketball

Jan. 17, 2018

UC Davis (13-3, 3-0 Big West) at UC Santa Barbara (6-10, 3-1 Big West)
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. | The Thunderdome | Santa Barbara, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong… ANALYST: Max Agress)
FOLLOW: Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | UC Davis Notes | UC Santa Barbara Notes

UC Davis (13-3, 3-0 Big West) at Cal Poly (8-7, 2-1 Big West)
Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 | 2:00 p.m. | Mott Athletic Center | San Luis Obispo, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong)
FOLLOW: Live Video | Live Audio | Live Stats | Tickets | UC Davis Notes | Cal Poly Notes

TIP-OFF: A run that has seen the Aggies play six of eight away from the friendly confines of The Pavilion comes to an end this weekend as the UC Davis women’s basketball team heads down the California coast for a pair of road contests. The Aggies clash with UC Santa Barbara on Thursday (Jan. 18) inside The Thunderdome at 7 p.m., before heading back up the 101 freeway to take on Cal Poly at the Mott Athletic Center on Saturday (Jan. 20) at 2 p.m.

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.

MID-MAJOR MOVERS: Another Big West Conference victory has the Aggies on their way back up the Mid-Major poll, jumping two spots back to No. 8 after ranking 10th a week ago. It marks the seventh week that UC Davis has stood among the top 10 mid-major programs in the country, reaching as high as No. 5 in back-to-back weeks on 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 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
Jan. 9 - No. 10
Jan. 16 - No. 8

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. 15, ranking 56th in the RPI following a 3-0 start to conference play, standing as the only Big West team in the top 100 thus far (Cal Poly is second at No. 196). 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.

START “BIG”: Last week’s victory over UC Riverside put UC Davis at 3-0 in Big West Conference play for only the second time in the program’s history (2015-16 being the other following wins over CSUN, Hawai’i, and UC Irvine) after the Aggies had opened with wins in two of their first three league tilts on eight different ocassions. A win Thursday at UC Santa Barbara would be program’s first 4-0 Big West start and its first 4-0 start to any conference schedule since UC Davis began 12-0 to open the 1998-99 California Collegiate Athletic Association campaign.

IT’S A START: The first Big West school with double-digit wins, UC Davis heads into the third weekend of conference play with 13 victories this season -- the best start through 16 games in the program’s Division I history and the most since the 1998-99 squad opened 15-1 en route to a 25-4 overall record and an 18-2 mark in CCAA play.

WINNING BIG IN THE BIG WEST: UC Davis has won its last 13 consecutive regular season games against league foes -- and six straight on the road -- dating back to a, 64-62, decision at Long Beach State on Jan. 21, 2016. It is the longest such run in the program’s Big West history and the longest for a conference school (current or former) since UC Riverside won 18 consecutive regular season conference games from Jan. 7, 2016, to Jan. 12, 2017.

BRACKETOLOGY: In his first bracketology projection of 2018 released on Jan. 2, ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the Aggies carrying the Big West banner into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed, matched-up with No. 3 UCLA in the opening round, joined by No. 6 Rutgers and No. 11 Northern Colorado in Los Angeles. The Bruins are currently ranked No. 13 in the country according to both the Associated Press and USA Today polls, with the Scarlet Knights ranked as high as No. 21. The Bears are gaining traction at No. 20 in the College Insider poll.

SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos enter the week with a 6-10 overall record and a 3-1 mark in Big West play to stand in second place -- just a half game back of UC Davis... UC Santa Barbara has won five of its last six, having its five-game winning streak snapped with a three-point loss to UC Irvine last week... The Gauchos are 3-3 at home, having won their last three straight... Senior forward Drew Edelman leads UCSB offensively, averaging 14.3 ppg and 9.4 rpg while shooting 51 percent from the field... Santa Barbara is averaging 64.9 ppg and shoots .398 from the field, while opponents are averaging 69.8 ppg and shooting .437 from the floor.

SERIES NOTES: UC Santa Barbara narrowly leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 18-17, after the Gauchos eliminated the Aggies in the semifinals of last year’s Big West Tournament, 73-59... UC Davis, which has won eight of the last 11 overall in the series, is 7-8 on the road against UCSB, winning three of the last four following a, 62-48, victory last season.

SCOUTING CAL POLY: The Mustangs enter the week with an 8-7 overall record and a 2-1 mark in Big West play... Cal Poly, which hosts UC Irvine on Thursday, won its only contest last week, downing CSUN, 84-71... The Mustangs are 5-1 at home, winning their last four dating back to a, 66-50, loss to Robert Morris on Nov. 24... Senior forward Dynn Leaupepe leads Cal Poly offensively, averaging 18.5 ppg and shooting .441 from the field to go with a team-best 5.3 rpg... The Mustangs are averaging 73.0 ppg and shooting .403 from the floor, while opponents are scoring 75.2 ppg, shooting .418 from the field.

SERIES NOTES: UC Davis leads the all-time series with Cal Poly, 29-23, having won the last four straight following sweeps of the regular season series between the two in each of the last two years... The Aggies are just 11-14 on the road against the Mustangs, winning three of the last four.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A POINT MAKES: UC Davis is a perfect 12-0 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.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DOMINATION: Of the Aggies’ 13 wins this season, 10 of those have come by 10-or-more points, compared to only one of the team’s three defeats.

DANI CALIFORNIA: Senior managerial economics major Dani Nafekh exploded offensively in the Aggies’ win over UC Riverside, finishing with a season-high 18 points on 6-of-10 from the floor, including a quartet of three-pointers. The total surpassed her previous season high of 10 three times -- the last coming at Saint Mary’s back on Dec. 9 in Moraga.

QUEENS OF THE QUARTER: Nafekh’s 10 points in the second quarter at UC Riverside marked the 13th time this season that an Aggie has finished with double-digit points in a single quarter this season -- nine of those from Bertsch alone. Since the NCAA returned to four quarters in 2015-16, Gianotti holds the program record for points in a quarter with 13 in the fourth against Cal Poly on Feb. 22, 2017.

FOUR!: The streak continues. Nafekh was one of four starters in double figures for the Aggies against the Highlanders -- the fourth time this season that UC Davis has finished with at least that many, improving to 4-0 in those contests. The Aggies have won their last 20 consecutive games when they have at least four players finish in double figures dating back to a, 73-70, loss to San Francisco on Dec. 2, 2014.

GIANOTTI JUST SHY: Missed it by that much. Senior political science major Pele Gianotti came oh so close to becoming the 19th player in the history of the program to reach 1,000 career points in front of the hometown crowd, finishing four points short after scoring 17 points against UC Riverside. Should she do so, Gianotti and junior biomedical engineering major Morgan Bertsch would become the first teammates to reach 1,000 career points in the same year since Sarah Allen and Colleen Turnbull did so in 2002-03, and only the third combination after Kari Sivesind and Kendall Greene did so in 1995-96.

BOARDING TOWARD A BENCHMARK: Speaking of Gianotti, the Myrtle Creek, Ore., native became just the fifth player in the program’s Division I history to reach 500 career rebounds with her nine boards at UC Irvine on Jan. 4. Should she add the 1,000 career point milestone this year, Gianotti would become only the fourth player in the program’s Division I history to hit 1,000 career points and grab 500 career rebounds, joining Alyson Doherty (2012-16), Paige Mintun (2007-11), and Sydnee Fipps (2011-15).

MOVIN’ ON UP: Thanks to her 16th consecutive double-digit scoring performance against UC Riverside, Bertsch maintained her hold on No. 7 on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,283 career points to her name. The Santa Rosa, Calif., native needs just 25 more to match former teammate Alyson Doherty (1,308) for sixth, and 100 to pass Paige Mintun (1,382) for a spot in the top five.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DAMAGE: After tying the school’s Division I single-season record with 29 games with 10-or-more points last season, Bertsch is back at it again with 16 such performances in the Aggies’ first 16 games -- giving her 66 for her career and solidifying her hold on fourth place on the school’s Division I career list, just five back of Paige Mintun. Teammates Pele Gianotti (50) and Rachel Nagel (37) also rank tied for fifth and seventh, respectively, on that same career list, all chasing record-holder Sydnee Fipps, who collected 80 career double-digit scoring games from 2011-15.

MISS CONSISTENTCY: Bertsch’s 16 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.

FROM WAY DOWNTOWN: UC Davis let loose from beyond the arc last week against UC Riverside, finishing with 11 three’s against the Highlanders -- the fourth time in double figures this season. The total was the team’s highest since finishing with 12 at Pacific on Nov. 20, while the seven made three’s in the third quarter against UCR is the most in a single quarter this year.

ROOM AND “BOARD”: Freshman Cierra Hall was all over the glass against UC Riverside, setting a new career high with 12 rebounds against the Highlanders in the Aggies’ 11-point victory. The total was the highest by a UC Davis player this season (senior design major Marly Anderson had 11 at Pacific) as were the six board alone in the first quarter, as the cell biology major from Cypress, Calif., posted the highest single-game total by an Aggie since Gianotti finished with 12 against both San Francisco and Portland last season.

I’M COMING FOR YOU, COACH!: With her six assists last week at UC Irvine, junior psychology major Kourtney Eaton moved past Karyn Castro (1995-99) into sixth on the school’s all-time list with 331, placing her just eight back of Laura Manning (1985-89) for fifth entering this week’s contest. Eaton, who put up 142 assists last season to rank second on the school’s single-season list, is just 117 helpers behind her head coach, Jennifer Gross, who holds the school career mark with 448 assists from 1993-97.

THREEE-CO-LA!: The Aggies enter the week with four of the league’s top 10 three-point shooters and still stand among the best in the nation from long distance, ranking No. 6 in three-point percentage (.402), No. 26 in three-pointers per game (8.7), and No. 46 in total three-pointers made (139). After hitting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, senior Dani Nafekh is tied for the Big West lead (.438), while senior psychology major Rachel Nagel (.426) if fourth, sophomore communication major Nina Bessolo is fifth (.417), and senior political science major Pele Gianotti is seventh (.410).

‘TIS THE SEASON OF GIVING: UC Davis has been the queens of making the extra pass this season, entering the week ranked No. 15 in the nation in assists per game (18.3 apg) and No. 40 in overall assists (292), while ranking No. 28 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.23). Meanwhile, Kourtney Eaton enters the week ranked No. 55 in the nation in assists per game (5.1), No. 95 in total assists (76), and No. 57 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.24).

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 No. 12 in the NCAA in made baskets with 140, trailing Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, who paces the nation with 180 makes from the floor. The junior also ranks among the top 50 in the nation in points per game (No. 37), while standing No. 32 in field goal percentage (.562).

DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP): After limiting Hawai’i to just 31 percent shooting from the field, the UC Davis defense has held 11 of its 16 opponents to 38 percent shooting or lower, continuing to lead the Big West in scoring defense (61.9 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.360), and three-point percentage defense (.297). Only Washington State, Portland State, UCF, Fordham, and UC Riverside, have shot better than that mark this season.

MEANWHILE, AT THE OTHER END: UC Davis shot better than 50 percent from the floor in each of its wins over UC Irvine and Hawai’i -- the fourth and fifth times this season that the Aggies have made better than half their shots from the field in 2017-18. The .558 (29-for-52) against Hawai’i on Jan. 6 is the second-best shooting performance of the season, trailing only the .569 at Saint Mary’s on Dec. 9.

SWAT TEAM: Just one year after setting the school’s single-season record with 129 blocks, the Aggies have picked up right where they left off, ranking second in the Big West at 4.1 bpg, while collecting at least four blocks for the 11th time in 16 games against Hawai’i on Jan. 6. UC Davis is nearly halfway to last year’s total with 66 swats thus far this season, paced by Morgan Bertsch’s 23 and 16 more from senior design major Marly Anderson.