Madness begins in Anaheim for top-seeded Aggies

March 7, 2018

UC Davis (24-5, 14-2) at the Big West Conference Tournament
Fri.-Sat., March 9-10, 2018 | Honda Center | Anaheim, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong)
TV: (PBP: Trent Rush… ANALYST: Richie Schueler… SIDELINE: Courtney Sweet)
FOLLOW: Tournament Central | Tickets | Live Stats | Live Video | UC Davis Notes

Nickname: Aggies
Location: Davis, Calif.
2017-18 Record: 24-5
Home / Away / Neutral: 13-1 / 10-4 / 1-0
2017-18 Big West Record: 14-2
Scoring Leader: Morgan Bertsch, 19.8 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Pele Gianotti, 5.7 rpg
Assist Leader: Kourtney Eaton, 4.57 apg

UC Davis Head Coach: Jennifer Gross
Alma Mater: UC Davis ‘97
Career/UC Davis Record: 127-89 (.588)
Big West Conference Record: 69-42 (.622)
Associate Head Coach: Joe Teramoto
Assistant Coaches: Des Abeyta, Matt Klemin

Overall Record: 10-9
First Round: 3-3
Quarterfinals: 2-1
Semifinals: 4-2
Championship Game: 1-3

TIP-OFF: By virtue of its second straight Big West Conference regular season title, the UC Davis women’s basketball team (24-5 overall, 14-2 in the Big West) enters the league tournament well-rested as the tournament’s top seed, earning a double-bye into the semifinals where the Aggies will face the lowest remaining seed on Friday (March 9) at Noon at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

“HI, MOM!”: The Aggies’ semifinal match-up will be broadcast live on and the WatchESPN app with Trent Rush (play by play), Richie Schueler (analyst), and Courtney Sweet (sideline) on the call. Should they advance to the championship on Saturday, that contest will be broadcast live on FOX PrimeTicket with Sweet joining Sam Farber (play by play) and Tammy Blackburn (analyst).

WATCH THIS!: Local UC Davis fans unable to make the trip to Southern California, can join fellow Aggie supporters and watch the game live at Woodstock’s Pizza in Downtown Davis (219 G St.) — home of the UC Davis Athletics official watch party for all Big West Tournament games this weekend. Admission is free and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, with food and drink specials available.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!: The Aggies clinched their second consecutive Big West regular season title -- and the program’s third overall -- claiming the first back-to-back titles for UC Davis since it ended a run of five consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association crowns from 1995-99, and the 15th overall regular season conference title dating back to 1978. The Aggies are the first Big West school to win outright consecutive regular season titles since UC Santa Barbara did the same from 2007-09.

TWIN TITLES: Move over Green Bay. With the men’s double overtime win over UC Irvine to clinch their third league title in four years, the city of Davis, Calif., has become the Big West’s “Titletown.” This year marks the first time that both the men’s and women’s regular season champions hail from the same school since 2008 when UC Santa Barbara swept the titles, and it is the seventh time since 1984 that the same school sports both regular season champions along with the 1984 (UNLV), 1985 (UNLV), 1990 (UNLV), 1991 (UNLV), and 2003 (UCSB), seasons.

POSTSEASON BOUND: While the team has its sights set a little higher, the Aggies have clinched at least a berth into the Women’s National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive season and the program’s sixth postseason berth overall. UC Davis advanced to the NCAA Tournament following a Big West Tournament victory in 2011, falling to Bay Area rival Stanford, 86-59, and has earned WNIT berths in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2017 -- making a run to the “Sweet 16” of last year’s event with wins over Utah and Colorado State for the program’s first-ever postseason victories at the Division I level.

MID-MAJOR MOVERS: A season-ending loss has the Aggies down to No. 13 in the latest College Insider mid-major poll released on Tuesday (March 6), falling out of the top 10 for the first time since Jan. 2 (No. 12). The drop ended a run of seven consecutive weeks in the top 10, where the Aggies stood for 12 of the 18 weeks this season. UC Davis has stood among the top 25 of the College Insider poll every week this season, debuting at No. 20 in the preseason.

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
Jan. 23 - No. 8
Jan. 30 - No. 7
Feb. 6 - No. 10
Feb. 13 - No. 9
Feb. 20 - No. 9
Feb. 27 - No. 8
March 6 - No. 13

1. Carol Rische (1979-83) - 1,711 points
2. Sydnee Fipps (2011-15) - 1,636
3. Morgan Bertsch (2015-pres.) - 1,539
9. Ellen Porshneva (2003-06, 2007-08) - 1,251
10. Jennifer Gross (1993-97) - 1,243
11. Pele Gianotti (2014-pres.) - 1,166
18. Kasey Riecks (2008-12) - 1,071
19. Kendall Greene (1992-96) - 1,027
20. Rachel Nagel (2014-pres.) - 1,010
-- Dani Nafekh (2014-pres.) - 850

AGGIES IN THE TOURNEY: UC Davis has qualified for the Big West Tournament in every season since becoming a full-fledged member of the league in 2007-08. The Aggies have made the conference tournament championship game four times in that span (2008, 2010, 2011, and 2016), including winning the tournament title and subsequent NCAA Tournament berth in 2011. UC Davis is 10-9 all-time in the Big West Tournament, going 0-1 last season after falling to UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals.

2008: 1-1 (W, UC Riverside... L, UC Santa Barbara)
2009: 0-1 (L, CSUN)
2010: 1-1 (W, UC Santa Barbara... L, UC Riverside)
2011: 3-0 (W, UC Irvine... W, UC Riverside... W, Cal Poly)
2012: 0-1 (L, Pacific)
2013: 0-1 (L, CSUN)
2014: 1-1 (W, UC Santa Barbara... L, UC Irvine)
2015: 2-1 (W, UC Irvine... W, Long Beach State... L, CSUN)
2016: 2-1 (W, UC Santa Barbara... W, UC Riverside... L, Hawai’i)
2017: 0-1 (L, UC Santa Barbara)

“SEMI”-SWEET VICTORIES: The 2018 season marks the fourth straight year -- and the seventh time in 11 seasons overall (2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) -- that the Aggies have gained the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament, winning four of their six previous chances.

GROSS REPEATS AS COACH OF THE YEAR: For the second consecutive season, UC Davis Head Coach Jennifer Gross was named the Big West Coach of the Year, joining mentor Sandy Simpson as Aggie women’s basketball coaches to have earned that honor twice from the conference in a career. Gross is the first repeat winner of the award in the league since UC Santa Barbara’s Mark French shared the award in 1999-00, then won it outright in 2000-01, and marks only the fifth time overall in conference history that a coach has won the award in consecutive seasons.

BERTSCH HEADLINES ALL-BIG WEST HONORS: Junior biomedical engineering major Morgan Bertsch was named to the first team for the second consecutive season, seniors Pele Gianotti (political science) and Rachel Nagel (psychology) earned second team honors, while senior managerial economics major Dani Nafekh was selected to the honorable mention team. For Bertsch and Gianotti, it was their third career All-Big West honors, while Nafekh picked up her second, and Nagel earned the first of her career. Read the complete release online at:

THAT’S FRESH: In addition to the above honors, let’s not leave out newcomer Cierra Hall, who became the eighth UC Davis student-athlete named to the Big West All-Freshman Team. Hall, a cell biology major from Cypress, Calif., gives the Aggies one of the league’s top freshmen for the fourth consecutive season, joining teammates Nafekh (2014-15), Bertsch (2015-16), and Nina Bessolo (2016-17). The 2009 Big West Freshman of the Year, Lauren Juric, Kasey Riecks (2008-09), Alyson Doherty (2012-13), and Molly Greubel (2012-13), have also been honored on that list.

FIRST!: Bertsch’s inclusion on the All-Big West first team marks the 12th such honor in the program’s history as the Santa Rosa, Calif., native became the third UC Davis player to earn at least two first-team nods in a career along with Paige Mintun (2009-11) and Sydnee Fipps (2013-15). With her selection, Bertsch gives the Aggies a first-team honoree in every season since joining the Big West in 2007-08 -- the only program in the conference to do so in that span.

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 March 5, ranking 65th in the RPI and standing as the only Big West team in the top 100 thus far (Cal Poly is second among league members at No. 140). The No. 42 ranking earlier this season was the highest that UC Davis had been ranked in the RPI dating back to Dec. 29, when the Aggies stood 40th.

BRACKETOLOGY: In his latest bracketology projection of 2018 released on Feb. 26, ESPN’s Charlie Creme still has the Aggies carrying the Big West banner into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 13 seed -- holding steady from last five weeks’ predicitions -- and still making the short drive to the Bay Area to take on No. 4 Stanford, along with No. 5 Missouri and No. 12 Gonzaga. To view the entire bracket, visit

WIN AND WHERE: The Aggies are just one win away from tying the program’s Division I era record for a single-season set last year when UC Davis finished 25-8 and posted the highest win total since the 1998-99 team finished 25-4... Overall, those 25 wins are tied for third in a single season, trailing only the 26-5 Aggies in 1990-91 and the 29-3 UC Davis team that finished third nationally in 1996-97... Meanwhile, on the conference side of the ledger, the Aggies’ 14-2 mark tied the Division I school record set last season (14-2)... The 28 wins in league over the last two seasons are the most in the program’s Big West era, surpassing the 21 wins from 2009-11 (11-3 & 10-6), and the most in a two-year span since 1998-00 when the Aggies were 32-8... The 28 conference wins over the last two years are the most in the league since UCSB finished 30-2 over the 2007-09 campaigns.

THAT WAS FAST: UC Davis’ victory over CSUN on Feb. 10 made the 2017-18 Aggies the quickest team to 20 wins in the program’s Division I history, doing so in just 24 games to beat last year’s squad that did so in 26 games. This year’s squad now ranks as the seventh-fastest on the all-time list after the Aggies reached 20 wins in 22 games four times in 1991-92, 1995-96, 1996-97, and 1998-99, to set the record.

BACK-TO-BACK: At 23 victories thus far this season, UC Davis has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the second time in the program’s Division I history, the fifth time overall, and the first since UC Davis finished 21-11 in 2009-10 and 24-9 in 2010-11 -- the latter leading to an NCAA Tournament berth. The Aggies also posted back-to-back seasons in 1979-80 (20-9) and 1980-81 (23-8), four straight seasons from 1988-92, and a run of six consecutive 20-win seasons from 1993-99.

DOUBLING UP: Of UC Davis’ 24 victories this season, 17 of those have been by double digits, with seven of those by 20-or-more points. Of those seven, two have been by 30-or-more points: a 32-point win at Pacific on Nov. 20 and a 30-point win over Long Beach State on Feb. 15.

SHE’S GOT GAME(S): No one has appeared in more games in UC Davis history than senior political science major Pele Gianotti, who collected career games No. 124 and 125 this past weekend in Southern California, breaking Samantha Meggison’s total of 123 games played from 2008-12. A four-year contrbuter who has started every game since her sophomore campaign, Gianotti also broke Jennifer Gross’ all-time consecutive games streak of 119 from 1993-97, appearing in every game since she stepped foot on campus as a freshman.

BERTSCH’S TITANIC NIGHT IN FULLERTON: The junior’s 34-point night against Cal State Fullerton were a career high, surpassing her previous best of 29 set against Sacramento State earlier this year and rank as the third-highest single-game total in school history, falling just two shy of Aimee Conner’s all-time record of 36 at Chico State on Feb. 20, 1993. Bertsch became the first Aggie to score 30-or-more points in a game since Jessica Campbell at Portland State on Nov. 25, 2005, and came on 14-of-21 from the field -- breaking her own Division I program single-game record for field goals made set and tied earlier this year against Pepperdine and Hawai’i, respectively.

MEET YOUR “MAKER”: Bertsch enters the week ranked No. 5 in the NCAA in made baskets with 249, trailing Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, who paces the nation with 308 makes from the floor. The junior also ranks among the best in the nation in points per game (No. 30), No. 46 in total points (573), while standing No. 28 in field goal percentage (.561).

THE MORGAN 600?: A record that has stood since the 1987-88 campaign is well within reach for Bertsch, who enters this week’s Big West Tournament with 573 points -- ranking second on the single-season list and standing just 27 shy of Staci Stevens, who holds the school record with 600 points. Bertsch’s total is also the most points ever scored by a junior in school history, breaking Sydnee Fipps’ mark of 548 in 2013-14.

THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME?: Entering this week’s contest with 1,539 career points to her name, good for third on the all-time list, Bertsch needs just 172 more to catch Carol Rische (1979-83) for the top spot and 282 more points to pass Audwin Thomas (1,821 points from 1975-79) on the men’s side to become the all-time leading scorer in UC Davis basketball history. Although there are games still to be played this season, Bertsch could join rarified air in Big West history as well if she can repeat this year’s success as a senior, needing 461 more points to reach 2,000 for a career -- something only seven other players in the history of the league have done.

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 29 such performances in the Aggies’ 29 games -- giving her 79 for her career to move her into sole possession of second place on the school’s Division I career list, just one back of Sydnee Fipps (80) for the record. Teammates Pele Gianotti (59) and Rachel Nagel (43) also rank fifth and seventh, respectively, on that same career list. Her 29 double-digit games are tied for the school’s Division I record, matching her total from all of last year and Paige Mintun’s 29 such performances in 2010-11.

MISS CONSISTENCY: And, now, a record. Bertsch’s 29 consecutive double-digit scoring games this season is a new program Division I record, breaking her own mark of 23 straight such performances from Feb. 18, 2016, to Jan. 5, 2017.

LEADERS BY EXAMPLE: Should she finish atop the team’s scoring chart this season, Bertsch would become only the fifth Aggie to lead the team in scoring in three consecutive seasons, with a chance to join Carol Rische as the only UC Davis players to do so all four years of their collegiate careers. Staci Stevens in 1985-88, Paige Mintun in 2008-11, and Sydnee Fipps in 2012-15, are the only other three Aggies to accomplish the feat three times. Meanwhile, Gianotti could become the third straight Aggie to lead the team in rebounds in back-to-back seasons after Sydnee Fipps in 2012-14 and Celia Marfone in 2014-16.

THEY JUST KEEP GOING IN: Bertsch enters the tournament with 633 career field goals made -- a program Division I record that stands just 18 behind Carol Rische’s all-time record of 651 -- while her 249 field goals this season are also a program Division I record and stands second on the all-time list behind only Staci Stevens’ 252 makes in 1987-88.

MOVIN’ ON UP: A career-high 26 points at UC Riverside last week propelled Gianotti up the all-time scoring list, leaping past both Colleen Turnbull and Lisa Jo Kellogg for 12th on the list with 1,166 career points, needing just 77 more to match Head Coach Jennifer Gross for a spot in the top 10.

BLOCK YOU VERY MUCH: Already the fifth Aggie to reach the century mark in career blocks at Seattle on Nov. 26, Bertsch upped her career total to 142 swats in last week’s games, solidifying her hold on third place on the school’s all-time list. The Santa Rosa, Calif., native is just five back of Alyson Doherty (147) for second place, and is within striking distance of Paige Mintun (150) for the all-time lead.

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 third in the Big West at 4.4 bpg, while collecting at least four in a game for the 19th and 20th times at Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. UC Davis is rapidly closing in on last year’s total with 127 swats thus far -- the third straight season with at least 100 (125 in 2015-16 and 129 in 2016-17).

“KOURT” VISION: With 128 assists this season, junior psychology major Kourtney Eaton has posted her third season with at least 100 assists -- and the fifth by an Aggie in the Division I era -- moving into a tie for eighth on the all-time single-season list and third on the school’s single-season Division I list. She stands just two back of Dani Nafekh’s 2015-16 total for second on the Division I list and seventh on the all-time list, while needing only 14 more to match her own Division I era record of 142 set in 2016-17.

I’M COMING FOR YOU, COACH!: Eaton’s passing prowess last week solidified her hold on third place on the all-time list with 383, setting her sights on Sara Lillevand (396) in second, with her head coach, Jennifer Gross, waiting at the top with 448 career assists.

IN A GIVING MOOD: 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 (17.3 apg) and No. 32 in overall assists (503), while ranking No. 33 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.21). Meanwhile, Kourtney Eaton enters the week ranked No. 81 in the nation in assists per game (4.6), No. 112 in total assists (128), and No. 36 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33).

BOARDING SCHOOL: In addition to her 1,000-point milestone, Gianotti became only the the fourth player in the program’s Division I history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in a career, joining Alyson Doherty (2012-16), Paige Mintun (2007-11), and Sydnee Fipps (2011-15). Gianotti’s 582 career rebounds entering the week are the most of any active Aggie player, ranking fourth on the school’s Division I list and 27 shy of Paige Mintun for 10th on the all-time chart.

YOU’VE GOT A 50-50 SHOT: The Aggies shot better than 50 percent from the field for the fourth consecutive contest at Cal State Fullerton last week, hitting on 56 percent against the Titans in their 12-point win. That streak was snapped two days later, but the performance in Orange County marked the 12th time overall this season that UC Davis has hit at least half their shots in a game, helping the program rank as one of the top shooting teams in the nation. The Aggies rank No. 4 in the nation in three-point percentage (.399) and No. 11 in field goal percentage (.474), while leading the Big West in all three categories.

MINUTE WOMAN: Senior Dani Nafekh has been on the floor... A LOT. The managerial economics major from Oakville, Ontario, ranks second on the program’s Division I career list with 3,206 minutes, just 144 minutes shy of Kasey Riecks’ mark of 3,350 from 2008-12. Meanwhile, Gianotti became only the sixth player in the program’s Division I history to eclipse 3,000 career minutes against Long Beach State on Feb. 15, as her 3,126 minutes puts her third amongst a group that includes Riecks, Nafekh, Hana Asano (3,100), Fipps (3,052), and Celia Marfone (3,009).

“BIG” TIME: Bertsch enters the week with the second-highest career point total (1,539) among active players in the Big West, trailing only Cal Poly senior Dynn Leaupepe (1,624). In fact, the Aggies’ have four of the top 10 active scorers in the league, with senior Pele Gianotti ranking sixth (1,166), senior Rachel Nagel eighth (1,010), and senior Dani Nafekh (850) standing 10th overall.

THREEE-CO-LA!: The Aggies enter the week with three of the league’s top 10 three-point shooters and still stand among the best in the nation from long distance, ranking No. 4 in three-point percentage (.399), No. 34 in three-pointers per game (8.3), and No. 40 in total three-pointers made (241). Senior Rachel Nagel (.431) and sophomore Nina Bessolo (.425) rank 2-3 in the league entering the week, while senior Dani Nafekh (.414) ranks sixth in the conference.