Outright Big West title within reach in regular season finale

March 3, 2017

GAME 29: UC Davis (22-6, 13-2) at CSUN (17-12, 10-5)
Saturday, March 4, 2017
2:00 p.m.
The Matadome (2,000)
Northridge, Calif.
TV: None
Game Coverage: Gameday Central (Stats/Audio/Video) | UC Davis Notes | CSUN Women's Basketball

TIP-OFF: With a share of the Big West Conference regular season title in hand, and riding a league-best nine-game winning streak, the UC Davis women’s basketball team (22-6, 13-2) goes for the outright league title on Saturday (March 4) at 2 p.m., traveling to Northridge to take on third-place CSUN at The Matadome in the regular season finale for both teams.

IN THE POLLS: Both UC Davis and CSUN are unranked nationally this week by the Associated Press and USA Today… The Aggies are among those receiving votes for the third consecutive week in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll, picking up four votes according to the Feb. 28 rankings... This is the sixth week overall that UC Davis has been among that group this season, gaining a season-high 11 votes back on Jan. 10.

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 MATADORS: CSUN enters the regular season finale with a 17-12 overall record and a 10-5 mark in Big West play... The Matadors had their nine-game winning streak snapped with a, 63-60, road loss at Long Beach State on Thursday... CSUN is 8-6 at home this season, having won five straight since a loss to Cal Poly back on Jan. 21... Sophomore Channon Fluker leads the way offensively for the Matadors, averaging 17.1 ppg and 11.9 rpg, while shooting .538 from the floor and blocking 73 shots... Junior guard Serafina Maulupe is also in double figures, averaging 13.9 ppg and shooting .374 from three-point range.

SERIES NOTES: UC Davis leads the all-time series with CSUN by a 22-15 count according to records dating back to the 1980-81 season... The Aggies have won the last three straight meetings with the Matadors, including an, 81-65, win at The Pavilion on Jan. 14, and six of the last seven overall with the only hiccup a, 61-47, loss in the 2015 Big West Tournament... UC Davis is 9-6 on the road against CSUN, having won its last three trips to the San Fernando Valley, including a, 75-52, victory last season.

BIG WEST BIG PICTURE: With the Aggies’ win at UC Riverside, UC Davis clinched a top-two seed for next week’s Big West Conference Tournament and a pair of byes into the semifinals at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., beginning on Friday (March 10). A victory over CSUN would clinch the regular season title outright, the league’s automatic bid to the WNIT, and the top seed in the tournament. A loss, and a Long Beach State win at Hawai’i, would give the 49ers the automatic bid and top seed because of their 2-0 mark against the Aggies this season.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING?: This one is for all the marbles. With both the UC Davis women and men (at UC Irvine) in contention for Big West titles, the Aggies would become the first teams from the same school to win regular season titles since UC Santa Barbara in 2007-08, and the first to win OUTRIGHT Big West crowns with wins by both squads since the Gauchos did so in 2002-03.

ALL SHE DOES IS WIN, WIN, WIN: The winningest player in UC Davis history is now among the winningest head coaches in the program’s history, as Head Coach Jennifer Gross clinched career win No. 100 on Saturday night at UC Riverside. The Aggies’ sixth-year mentor is the fourth UC Davis women’s basketball coach to reach the century mark, joining former coaches Sandy Simpson (251), Jorja Hoehn (205), and Pam Gill-Fisher (164). As a player, Gross won no fewer than 22 games in a season during her four years, culminating in a 29-3 record and a third-place finish nationally as a senior. As an assistant coach from 2004-11, Gross also helped guide the Aggies to a total of 113 victories during the program’s transition to Division I, including a pair of WNIT berths and the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2011.

STREAKING: Thursday’s win UC Riverside extended the Aggies’ winning streak to nine straight games -- continuing to establish a new benchmark for consecutive victories in the program’s Division I Era, and its longest since UC Davis won nine-in-a-row from Jan. 19-Feb. 23, 2006. A 10th consecutive win on Saturday in Northridge would give the Aggies their longest since the won 14 straight games during the 1998-99 season.

SO, WHERE DO WE STAND?: The 22 wins are the most since that NCAA Tournament season in 2010-11 (24-9) and is the second-highest win total in the program’s Division I history... Overall, the 22 wins are tied for 10th in a single season, with the record of 29 set in 1996-97... The 13 Big West wins continue to build on a school record, surpassing the 11-3 mark in league play during the 2009-10 season when the Aggies clinched their only Big West regular season title (21-11 overall), and are the most in any conference since they finished 13-9 against California Collegiate Athletic Association foes in 2002-03... UC Davis matched the Division I Era mark for home victories by finishing 12-2 at The Pavilion this season, equalling the 2010-11 squad that finished 12-3... UC Davis’ 10th win on the road on Thursday at UC Riverside matched the Division I Era mark for victories away from home, tying the 2010-11 squad that finished 10-6 and the most since the 1998-99 team won 11 games on the road.

FORESHADOWING?: The Aggies’ win over Cal Poly on Feb. 22 secured the program’s third 20-win season in its Division I history (and the 15th overall since the 1979-80 season), surpassing last year’s win total with two games still to play in the regular season. The last time UC Davis won 20 games? The Aggies finished 24-9, won the Big West Tournament, and earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 2010-11. UC Davis also won 20 games in 2009-10 (21-11), advancing to the WNIT following its first Big West regular season title after finishing 11-3 in league that year.

A “GRAND” MILESTONE ON THE HORIZON?: Following her team-high 16-point effort on Thursday at UC Riverside, sophomore Morgan Bertsch stands just 87 points away from becoming the 18th player in UC Davis history -- and only the fifth at the Division I level -- to reach 1,000 career points. 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.

AROUND THE NATION: UC Davis ranks among the top 50 in the nation in 12 different categories: field goal percentage (No. 40), field goal defense (No. 24), free throw percentage (No. 38), three-point percentage (No. 26), assists per game (No. 21), fewest turnovers per game (No. 40), fewest fouls per game (No. 23), assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 21), three-point defense (No. 30), fewest turnovers (No. 33), fewest fouls (No. 18), and assists (No. 34), while ranking among the top 100 in five other categories.

HOLY POINT TOTALS, BATMAN!: After coming up 13 points shy in her bid to be the highest-scoring freshman in the program’s history with 446 points last year, Bertsch now sets her sights on the sophomore record held by Sydnee Fipps, who scored 512 points in 2012-13. Bertsch, with 467 points (and counting), already ranks ninth on school’s single-season list and needs 46 more to surpass Fipps’ standard. With 23 more points, she would become only the fifth Aggie to finish with 500-or-more in a single season, joining Staci Stevens (record 600 in 1987-88), Aimee Conner (561 in 1992-93), Fipps (548 in 2013-14 and 512 in 2012-13), and Sarah Allen (508 in 2002-03).

RAINING BUCKETS: Bertsch enters the regular season finale with 185 baskets made, which places her fifth on the school’s single-season chart, 11 back of Staci Stevens (1987) and 15 away from becoming only the fourth Aggie to reach 200 field goals made in a season along with Stevens (252 in 1988), Aimee Conner (238 in 1993), and Carol Rische (201 in 1981).

DROPPING DIMES: With her four assists at Riverside, Kourtney Eaton moved into a tie for 10th on the school’s single-season list with 119, matching Jennifer Decuir (2003-04) and Kari Sivesind (1995-96), and standing one back of Head Coach Jennifer Gross’ 1996-97 total for ninth. The Longview, Wash., native has finished with at least five assists 10 times this season -- and 21 times in her career -- as well as eight games of seven or more. Powered by her team-high total, the Aggies rank among the top 25 in the nation in assists (468) and assists per game (16.7 apg) -- good for No. 34 and No. 21, respectively, as of March 2.

ONE FOR YOU, NONE FOR THEM: In racking up those 119 assists, Eaton has turned the ball over only 46 times, posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.59 that ranks first in the Big West and No. 23 in the NCAA. Eaton has finished with no fewer than three assists in 25 of the team’s 28 games, while turning the ball over two-or-fewer times in 19 of those contests -- including six games with zero turnovers. Overall, the Aggies rank No. 21 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.23 as a team as of March 2.

GAME OF (SECOND) CHANCE: A 13-10 advantage on the offensive glass in Riverside helped UC Davis to a 20-5 lead in second-chance points against the Highlanders -- the second-largest margin in that category behind only a 22-point advantage at UC Irvine on Jan. 5. Overall, the Aggies out-rebounded UCR, 41-35, for the game, marking the only the 10th time that UC Davis has won the battle on the glass, improving to 10-0 in those contests.

IT ONLY TAKES ONE: Thursday’s two-point win tied the mark for the smallest margin of victory for the Aggies this season, equalling the, 68-66, win over Saint Mary’s back on Dec. 11 at The Pavilion. Of UC Davis’ 22 wins, only eight have been decided by single digits while the Aggies have posted nine victories of 20-or-more points.

SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE: UC Davis, the Big West’s top-shooting team, was limited to just 33 percent from the field on Thursday and was out-shot for only the fifth time all season, but improved to 2-3 in those contests with its two-point win.

HIGHLANDER HIGHLIGHT REEL: In her two seasons as an Aggie, sophomore Kourtney Eaton has statistically enjoyed playing against UC Riverside, especially after Thursday when she finished with a career-high 15 points in the Aggies’ two-point win. Eaton’s previous career high was 13 set against the Highlanders in the semifinals of last year’s Big West tournament, and is averaging 10.6 ppg, 5.2 apg, and shooting 50 percent from the field (18-for-36) and beyond the arc (10-for-20) in five career games against UCR, reaching double figures three times.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DUTY: Bertsch’s 26 double-digit scoring performances rank fourth on the school’s Division I Era single-season list, just three back of Paige Mintun’s record of 29 in 2010-11, while the 47 for her career stand fifth on the career chart during that same time. The sophomore’s eight 20-point games this season also rank fifth, while the 18 for her career stand second behind only Sydnee Fipps, who had 32 such games from 2012-15.

SHE CAN DISH IT OUT: With three more assists on Saturday against UC Santa Barbara, junior Dani Nafekh has helped herself right into the UC Davis record books, recording her 277th career assist to break a tie with Jessica Campbell for 10th on the school’s all-time list in that category and now stands seven back of Hana Asano for the program’s Division I career record (and No. 9 on the career list) with 278 following Thursday’s game at UC Riverside. Nafekh is one of only six players to amass 200-or-more assists at the Division I level in the program’s history: Asano (285), Nafekh (278), Kourtney Eaton (232), Blair Shinoda (223), Alyson Doherty (214), and Celia Marfone (206).

CENTURY MARK: Five more blocks on Thursday against UC Riverside has UC Davis over the century mark in the category for the second straight season, the third time in the last five years, and the fourth time since NCAA records are available (since 1992-93), entering the final game of the regular season with 107 as a team. The total stands just 18 back of the school single-season record of 125 set last season.

RECORD CHASING: Career block numbers 83, 84, and 85, at UC Riverside solidifed Bertsch’s hold on seventh place on the school’s all-time list, just two swats back of current assistant coach Des Abeyta for the No. 6 spot. Bertsch’s 49 blocks this season (which rank No. 72 in the NCAA as of March 3), has her tied for third place on the school’s single-season list with Janae Henning’s 2000-01 total, and puts her just seven shy of Paige Mintun’s record of 56 during the 2010-11 campaign.

GIANOTTI GOES BIG: Fresh off her first career Big West Player of the Week award, Gianotti extended her double-digit scoring streak to five straight -- and eight of her last nine overall -- with 12 points at UC Riverside. She is averaging 15.8 ppg during that stretch while shooting .521 (50-for-96) from the field and .462 (24-for-52) from beyond the arc.

SPEAKING OF DOUBLE DIGITS: Since being held to a season-low two points against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 28, Bertsch has blown up, reaching double figures in each of her last seven contests -- including a trio of 20-point games -- averaging 18.9 ppg while shooting .546 (53-for-97) from the field.