Aggies home to host Highlanders

Sophomore Karley Eaton tied a career high with five assists last week at Long Beach State. (Photo by Wayne Tilcock/Davis Enterprise)
Jan. 24, 2017

NEXT UP…
GAME 20: UC Riverside (10-8, 4-1) at UC Davis (13-6, 4-2)
Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017
7:00 p.m.
The Pavilion (5,931)
Davis, Calif.
TV: None
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM
Game Coverage: Gameday Central (Audio/Video/Stats) | UC Davis Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UCR Women's Basketball

TIP-OFF: Sitting just a half a game out of first place following the first three weeks of the Big West Conference season, UC Davis (13-6, 4-2) closes out the month with a pair of home games at The Pavilion, beginning Thursday (Jan. 26) at 7 p.m., against UC Riverside in the first of two meetings between the programs this season.

IN THE POLLS: Both UC Davis and UC Riverside are unranked nationally this week by the Associated Press, USA Today, or the CollegeInsider.com MId-Major poll/

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

ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside enters the week with a 10-8 overall record and a 4-1 mark in Big West Conference play, sitting in a tie atop the league with Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara... The Highlanders have won two straight -- and four of their last five -- after sweeping UC Irvine (79-58) and Cal State Fullerton (68-45) last week... UC Riverside is just 3-6 on the road this season, having lost its last four true road games before its win in Irvine last week... Do-it-all senior Rejane Verin leads the team in scoring (17.1 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg), and assists (4.61 apg), while shooting .480 from the floor... Simone DeCoud (12.2 ppg) and Lauren Holt (11.2 ppg) are also in double figures for the Highlanders, who average 64.2 ppg and are shooting .420 from the field for the season.

SERIES NOTES: UC Davis leads the all-time series with UC Riverside, 33-23, according to game-by-game records that date back to the 1971-72 season... The Aggies snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with the Highlanders with their win in last year’s Big West Tournament semifinals... UC Davis is 14-8 against UCR at home, winning four of the last five meetings at The Pavilion after the Highlanders posted a, 90-76, win over the Aggies last season in Northern California... Four of the last five meetings have been decided by single digits.

INCOMING!: UC Davis women’s basketball solidified its front line with a trio of signings during the NCAA’s early signing period on Nov. 10, welcoming three high school standouts to the “Aggie Family.” Southern California natives Kayla Konrad (Valencia, Calif. / Valencia HS) and Cierra Hall (Cypress, Calif. / Fairmont Prep Academy) join highly-rated Canadian post Sage Stobbart (North Vancouver, British Columbia / Seycove Secondary School) in the Aggies’ signing class, who all begin their careers as true freshmen in 2017-18. For more details on the three signees, read the entire release at http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111016aac.html.

#PROTECTTHEPAVILION: With a 7-2 record within the friendly confines of The Pavilion this season, UC Davis is just one win shy of last season’s home win total (8-5) and five back of the Division I Era mark for home wins set in 2010-11 (12-3) with five home contests remaining. The Aggies have won 11 of its last 14 on its home floor, and are a combinbed 44-32 (.579) at The Pavilion under Head Coach Jennifer Gross.

RPI LEADERS: The Aggies, who have been ranked as high as No. 40 in the nation in the RPI this season, enter Thursday’s game at No. 98 in the rankings (as of Jan. 23) -- one of only two Big West Conference schools in the top 100 (No. 77 Long Beach State). UC Davis has faced four other teams currently in the top 100: No. 8 Oregon State, No. 11 Stanford, No. 72 Jacksonville, and No. 86 Montana State, along with three more among the top 150 with No. 124 UCF, No. 125 San Francisco, and No. 138 Saint Mary’s.

SHOOTER!: UC Davis remains at the top of the Big West when it comes to scoring offense at 71.6 ppg (No. 75 in the nation), helped along by the fact that UC Davis is one of the most accurate shooting teams in the country. The Aggies rank No. 31 in the NCAA in field goal (.447), No. 34 in free throw (.756), and No. 53 in three-point percentage (.352), continuing to lead the Big West in the first two while ranking second in the third.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NATION: Entering the week, the Aggies also rank among the top 50 in the country in assists per game (No. 23), assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 26), total assists (No. 29), defensive rebounds per game (No. 30), three-point percentage defense (No. 40), field goal percentage defense (No. 43), and fewest turnovers per game (No. 50). Overall, UC Davis ranks among the top 100 teams in 20 different categories as of Jan. 23.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A POINT MAKES: Thanks to its big win against Fullerton, UC Davis is a perfect 11-0 this season when scoring 70-or-more points, but is just 2-6 when held to 69-or-fewer after scoring just 62 points against Long Beach State on Jan. 21.

MILESTONE ON THE HORIZON?: Bertsch is just 234 points away from becoming the 18th player in UC Davis history to reach 1,000 points for her career, but she has some work to do -- needing to average 21.3 ppg over the final 11 games of the season (10 regular season games, plus the possibility of only one postseason contest). If she were to reach the mark with a monster finish this season, Bertsch would become the first sophomore to do so in the history of the program after three former greats (Carol Rische, Ellen Porshneva, and Sydnee Fipps) accomplished the feat as juniors.

RECORD CHASING: Three first half blocks on Saturday at Long Beach State solidified sophomore Morgan Bertsch’s hold on eighth place on the school’s all-time list with 72 career swats, placing her just eight back of Ellen Porshneva (2003-06, 2007-08) for the No. 7 spot. Her 36 swats this season (which rank No. 52 in the NCAA) ties her own total from all of last year and moves her into a tie for eighth with herself on the school’s single-season list, just two back of Staci Stevens’ total from 1987-88.

SWAT TEAM: When it comes to patrolling the paint, not many have done it better than the Aggies’ tandem of Bertsch and junior Marly Anderson, who have combined for 62 of the team’s 81 swats thus far this season. Bertsch leads the way and has tallied at least one block in 18 of her team’s 19 games -- including a career high-tying four against Saint Mary’s (Dec. 11) and Sacramento State (Dec. 18), and 11 games with two or more -- while Anderson has at least one block in 17 of the team’s 19 games and is second on the team with 26 overall, including three in wins over Montana State and San Diego State.

NO HOOP FOR YOU!: Bertsch and Anderson’s combined 62 blocked shots are the most by any Big West paint pair this season, edging the CSUN tandem of Channon Fluker and Tessa Boagni, who enter the week with 60 combined blocks.

SHE’S BAAAAAAACK...: After being held to single digits in the scoring column against Long Beach State on Jan. 12 for the first time since February of last season, sophomore Morgan Bertsch has bounced back in a big way in her last three games, hitting 19-of-32 (.594) and averaging 17.0 ppg over that span. While her double-digit scoring streak came to an end at 23 games, the Santa Rosa, Calif., native has still been stellar over the last 27 games, averaging 17.5 ppg (472 overall) and shooting .561 (184-for-328) from the floor in that stretch.

CENTURY MARK: With 81 blocks thus far this season, the Aggies are just 19 away from hitting the century mark for the second straight year and 44 back of the school’s single-season mark of 125 established last season. Should they reach 100 for the year, it will be the third time in the last five seasons that the Aggies will tally at least 100 blocks in a single season, and the fourth time since NCAA records are available in 1992-93 along with the 1994-95 UC Davis squad that finished with an even 100 for the year.

I’LL TAKE EATON FOR 200, ALEX: With three more assists at Long Beach State last weekend, sophomore Kourtney Eaton has amassed 194 for her career -- moving her to within six helpers of becoming only the sixth player in the program’s Division I history to reach 200 for a career. Sporting the third-highest assist total entering Thursday’s game, Eaton has finished with no fewer than three assists in 18 of the team’s 19 games, while turning the ball over two-or-fewer times in 14 of those contests -- including five games with zero turnovers. Entering the weekend, Eaton ranks second in the Big West and No. 29 in the nation with a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

SHE CAN DISH IT OUT: Junior Dani Nafekh has solidified her hold on second place on the school’s Division I list for career assists with 253, ranking behind only Hana Asano (278) on that list, and moving her closer to Jessica Campbell (274) for 10th on the all-time chart, needing just 21 more to match the all-time Aggie great. Nafekh is only the fifth player in the program’s Division I history to reach 200 assists, joining Asano, Blair Shinoda (223), Alyson Doherty (214), and Celia Marfone (206).

KARLEY CAN PASS TOO: Sophomore Karley Eaton took a page out of her sister’s book on Saturday at Long Beach State, tying her career high with five assists (against only two turnovers) off the bench for the Aggies to grab game-high honors. The mark matched her output against Sacramento State back on Dec. 18, and boosted her assist-to-turnover ratio to 2.1 on the year.

QUEEN OF THE KOURT: When not leading her teammates to the basket with a well-timed pass, the younger of the Eatons (Kourtney) has been on a scoring kick as of late, hitting double figures in four of her last seven games, matching her season high with 12 points twice during that span -- both coming against Long Beach State. In addition to averaging nearly five assists per contest in that stretch, Eaton is also putting up 8.6 points per contest, raising her overall season average by more than a point, and shooting 46 percent from the floor.

FROM WAY DOWNTOWN: Distance is nothing for junior Dani Nafekh. After making the 2,500-mile trek across the continent to become an Aggie two years ago, the Oakville, Ontario, Canada, native has made baskets look easy this season -- especially from long distance. Nafekh enters the week ranked No. 14 in the nation, shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc -- a mark that would rank second on the school’s single-season list behind only former teammate Kelsey Harris and her .483 three-point percentage that set the record in 2015.