Aggies' Postseason Run Begins in Salt Lake City

March 15, 2017

NEXT UP…
GAME 31: UC Davis (23-7, 14-2) at Utah (16-14, 5-13)
Friday, March 17, 2017
5:00 p.m. (PT)
Huntsman Center (15,000)
Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: None
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM
Game Coverage: Gameday Central (Stats/Audio/Video) | UC Davis Notes | Utah Women's Basketball

TIP-OFF: Champions of the Big West Conference regular season, the UC Davis women’s basketball team (23-7 overall, 14-2 in the Big West) begins its postseason run this week on the road, heading to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take on the University of Utah on Friday (March 17) at the Huntsman Center. Tip off is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT.

IN THE POLLS: For the fourth consecutive week, UC Davis was ranked among those receiving votes in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, picking up three votes in the March 7 rankings after claiming the Big West regular season crown. The Aggies have been among that group since Feb. 14, gaining as many as four votes in that span, while picking up a season-high 11 votes back on Jan. 10 after opening conference play with a 2-0 mark.

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.

CAN’T MAKE THE TRIP?: Live stats and streaming video will be available online via links on the Aggies’ Gameday Central page on UCDavisAggies.com. Fans may also listen live locally on KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, Calif., or online at KDVS.org.

AGGIES IN THE POSTSEASON: The 2016-17 season marks the Aggies’ fifth foray into the postseason in its 10 seasons at the Division I level and the program’s first since making the WNIT field in 2012. UC Davis has made one trip to the NCAA Tournament back in 2011 when it won the Big West Conference Tournament and faced off against Bay Area rival Stanford in the first round, falling to the Cardinal, 86-59. The Aggies have made three previous trips to the WNIT -- all on the road -- but are still searching for their first victory after falling to Gonzaga (81-60) in 2008, California (74-69 in overtime) in 2010, and Oregon State (66-48) in 2012. UC Davis was a mainstay in the NCAA Division II Tournament before making the jump to Division I, advancing to the NCAA West Regionals 12 times in 14 years from 1986-99, including a third-place national finish in 1997.

UC DAVIS DIVISION I POSTSEASON HISTORY

2008 WNIT at Gonzaga L, 81-60
2010 WNIT at California L, 74-69 (ot)
2011 NCAA at Stanford L, 86-59
2012 WNIT at Oregon State L, 66-48

ABOUT THE UTES: Led by second-year head coach Lynne Roberts, who was at the helm of former Big West rival Pacific for nine seasons, Utah enters the postseason with a 16-14 overall record and a 5-13 mark in the difficult Pacific-12 Conference that qualified seven teams to the NCAA Tournament and three more to the WNIT field... The Utes enter the postseason on a two-game losing streak after falling to Washington in their regular season finale, and dropping an 18-point decision to Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament... Six-foot-six junior forward Emily Potter leads a trio of Utah scorers in double figures, averaging 13.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while shooting a shade under 52 percent from the field and blocking a league-high 87 shots... She earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors and was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team... Junior wing Malia Nawahine (10.5 ppg) and senior wing Paige Crozon (10.1 ppg) are also in double figures and stand 1-2 in three-point percentage on the team.

SERIES NOTES: UC Davis and Utah have met only one other time, with the Utes posting an, 88-58, victory over the Aggies at the Huntsman Center on Dec. 29, 2015.

CONFERENCE CALL: UC Davis is a combined 21-27 against Pac-12 opponents... The Aggies have lost their last nine meetings with Pac-12 schools dating back to a, 78-69, win at USC during the 2012-13 season... UC Davis has faced nine of the 12 current members of the conference: Arizona State (0-3), California (7-3), Oregon State (0-3), Stanford (10-12), UCLA (0-2), USC (1-1), Utah (0-1), Washington (2-1), and Washington State (1-1).

GROSS NAMED BIG WEST COACH OF THE YEAR: After leading her team to the conference’s regular season title, a top seed in the Big West Tournament, and an automatic berth in the WNIT, sixth-year Head Coach Jennifer Gross was named the Big West Coach of the Year on Monday for the first time in her career. Gross joins former Aggies’ mentor Sandy Simpson in the league annals as Big West coaches of the year, after Simpson earned the award as the league’s top coach in 2008 and 2010.

AGGIE QUARTET EARNS ALL-BIG WEST HONORS: Sophomore Morgan Bertsch and junior Pele Gianotti were named to the first team, junior Dani Nafekh earned second team honors, while newcomer Nina Bessolo was named to the All-Freshman Team. Bertsch was a member of the second-team and all-freshman squad a year ago, while Gianotti earned honorable mention honors. Nafekh and Bessolo each earned their first all-conference awards. Read the complete release online at: http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/030617aab.html.

FIRST!: Bertsch and Gianotti became only the sixth and seventh different Aggies to earn first-team honors since UC Davis joined the Big West in 2007-08, joining the likes of past greats Jessica Campbell, Paige Mintun, Samantha Meggison, Sydnee Fipps, and Alyson Doherty. With their selections in 2017, Bertsch and Gianotti give the Aggies a first-team honoree in every season since joining the league -- the only program in the conference to do so in that span.

THAT’S FRESH: Bessolo’s inclusion on this year’s Big West All-Freshman Team marks the third straight season -- and the seventh time overall -- that UC Davis has had one of the league’s top newcomers. Bessolo joins 2009 Big West Freshman of the Year Lauren Juric, Kasey Riecks (2008-09), Alyson Doherty (2012-13), Molly Greubel (2012-13), Dani Nafekh (2014-15), and Morgan Bertsch (2015-16).

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 March 2 at UC Riverside, following that up with No. 101 to clinch the Big West title outright two days later at CSUN. 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.

WIN AND WHERE?: The Aggies have won 20 games for the third time in the program’s Division I history, joining the 2009-10 team that finished 21-11 and the 2010-11 NCAA Tournament squad that finished 24-9... The 23 wins this season rank second in the program’s Division I Era, trailing only the 24-9 mark set by the 2010-11 NCAA Tournament team... Overall, the 23 wins are tied for eighth in a single season, with the record of 29 set in 1996-97... The 14 Big West wins are also 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 14-8 against California Collegiate Athletic Association foes in 2001-02... 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’ 11th win on the road on March 4 at CSUN set a new Division I Era mark for victories away from home, breaking the record set by the 2010-11 squad that finished 10-6, and posting the most since the 1998-99 team won 11 games on the road.

AGGIES IN THE NCAA: UC Davis enters the week ranked among the top 50 in the nation in 15 different categories: field goal percentage (#42), field goal percentage defense (#29), free throw percentage (#31), three-pointers per game (#49), three-point percentage (#24), winning percentage (#35), assists per game (#21), fewest turnovers per game (#40), fewest fouls per game (#24), assist-to-turnovers per game (#20), three-point defense (#29), defensive rebounds per game (#28), fewest turnovers (#32), fewest fouls (#18), and overall assists (#39), while ranking among the top 100 in four other categories.

ALL GOOD STREAKS MUST COME TO AN END: A loss in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament put a stop to the Aggies’ Division I Era-record 10 game winning streak -- the longest for the program since they won 14 straight games during the 1998-99 season. Before it ended, it was tied for the eighth-longest active streak in the nation.

MOVING ON: If there has been a silver lining to losses this season, it would be that the UC Davis coaching staff hasn’t allowed the student-athletes to dwell on them too long. The Aggies have yet to lose back-to-back games this season, rebounding from each of their six previous defeats with huge victories: a 20-point win over San Diego State (after Hofstra), upsetting mid-major No. 14 Saint Mary’s (after Stanford), posting a Division I Era record 110 points at Sacramento State (after Oregon State), a 41-point win over UC Irvine (after Jacksonville), and double-digit wins over CSUN (16 points) and UC Riverside (17 points) following losses to Long Beach State.

YOU WON’T LIKE US WHEN WE’RE ANGRY: Opponents beware. In following up all six of their previous losses with six wins, the Aggies have won five of those games by double digits, and out-scored the opposition by an average of 21.3 ppg (a total of 495-367).

A “GRAND” MILESTONE ON THE HORIZON?: Sophomore Morgan Bertsch stands just 63 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.

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 491 points (and counting), already ranks sixth on school’s single-season list and needs 22 more to surpass Fipps’ standard. With nine 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).

DOUBLE-DIGIT DUTY: Bertsch’s 28 double-digit scoring performances rank tied for second on the school’s single-season list alongside Sydnee Fipps’ total from 2013-14, just one back of Paige Mintun’s record of 29 set in 2010-11, while her 49 career double-digit games are still fifth, one behind Kasey Riecks’ total from 2008-12 for fourth. Bertsch’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.

OH, CANADA!: According to Google Maps, It’s a little over 2,500 miles from Davis, Calif., to Oakville, Ontario, Canada (population 193,832 as of the 2016 census). After closing out the regular season by hitting 60 percent (18-for-30) from beyond the arc, junior Dani Nafekh could probably make one from that far away if she had to. The managerial economics major only ranks tied for fifth in the league with 58 makes from three-point range, but Nafekh has been the most accurate of the bunch, leading the Big West and ranking third in the NCAA with a .483 three-point percentage entering the week.

THREE-CO-LA!: Nafekh’s 58 three’s rank in a tie for 10th on the school’s single-season list, just two back of a tie for eighth with Pele Gianotti’s 2016 total and Cortney French’s 2013 total. If the season ended today, Nafekh’s three-point percentage would also be a single-season school record, unseating former teammate Kelsey Harris by .00019 for the top spot.

RIGHT ON, RACHEL: Junior Rachel Nagel led the Aggies with a team-high 18 points, tying a season high with seven baskets -- four of those from beyond the arc -- to go with five rebounds in a career-high 39 minutes. It was her 12th double-digit scoring performance of the season, but her first since scoring 12 points at Cal Poly back on Feb. 2, ending a seven-game stretch where she scored 40 points combined.

SWAT TEAM: UC Davis enters the postseason with 112 blocked shots, pushing the Aggies over the century mark in that 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). The total stands just 13 back of the school single-season record of 125 set last year.

RECORD CHASING: Career block numbers 83, 84, and 85, at UC Riverside on March 2 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. 82 in the NCAA as of March 13), 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.

POINT(S) TAKEN: If the season ended today, this year’s edition of the Aggies would end up the highest-scoring in the program’s Division I history as their 69.4 ppg average would top the previous standard of 68.5 ppg set in 2010-11. Entering the WNIT with 2,082 points on the year, this season’s squad became the sixth team to break the 2,000-point barrier in the Division I Era, and ranks third on the list behind the all-time record 2,261 points in 2010-11.

FIELD “GOALS”: Bertsch enters the team’s WNIT opener with 195 baskets made, which stands as a new Division I Era single-season record (Paige Mintun had 184 in 2010-11) and places her fifth on the school’s single-season chart, one back of Staci Stevens (1987) and five 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).

BERTSCH’S BUCKETS: 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 nine contests -- including a trio of 20-point games -- averaging 17.3 ppg while shooting .525 (63-for-120) from the field.

DROPPING DIMES: With her two assists against UC Santa Barbara, Kourtney Eaton moved into a tie for eighth on the school’s single-season list with 125, matching head coach Jennifer Gross’ 1994-95 season total, and standing just three back of Laura Manning and her 1988-89 total for seventh. 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 (495) and assists per game (16.5 apg) -- good for No. 39 and No. 21, respectively, as of March 14.

ONE FOR YOU, NONE FOR THEM: In racking up those 125 assists, Eaton has turned the ball over only 49 times, posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.55 that ranks first in the Big West and No. 22 in the NCAA. Eaton has finished with no fewer than three assists in 26 of the team’s 30 games, while turning the ball over two-or-fewer times in 20 of those contests -- including seven games with zero turnovers. Overall, the Aggies rank No. 20 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.23 as a team as of March 14.

SHE CAN DISH IT OUT: Junior Dani Nafekh has helped herself right into the UC Davis record books, recording her 279th career assist against UC Santa Barbara at the Big West Tournament, solidifying her hold on the No. 10 spot on the all-time list and standing six back of Hana Asano for the program’s Division I career record (and No. 9 on the career list). 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 (279), Kourtney Eaton (238), Blair Shinoda (223), Alyson Doherty (214), and Celia Marfone (206).