Aggies play at altitude for WNIT second round

March 18, 2017

NEXT UP...
GAME 32: UC Davis (24-7, 14-2) at Colorado State (25-8, 15-3)
Sunday, March 19, 2017
1:00 p.m. (PT)
Moby Arena (8,745)
Fort Collins, Colo.
TV: Mountain West Network
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM
Game Coverage: Gameday Central (Stats/Audio/Video) | UC Davis Notes | Colorado State Women's Basketball

TIP-OFF: Fresh off the first postseason victory in the program's Division I history, the UC Davis women's basketball team (24-7 overall) continues its postseason run this weekend, heading to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on Colorado State in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Sunday (March 19) at Moby Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT.

IN THE POLLS: Following their loss in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals, the Aggies dropped out of the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll, after being among those receiving votes for four consecutive weeks from Feb. 14 to March 7.

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... Friday's win at Utah improved the Aggies to 1-3 in WNIT games, previous 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
2017 WNIT at Utah W, 72-62

ABOUT THE RAMS: Colorado State enters the weekend fresh off a first-round victory over Saint Mary's, taking the Gaels to overtime before pulling away for an, 80-68, victory... The Rams are 25-8 overall, including an almost perfect 16-1 mark at home -- winning nine straight at Moby Arena dating back to a, 51-45, loss to Boise State on Dec. 31... Senior guard Ellen Nystrom does it all for Colorado State, leading the Rams in scoring (15.0 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg), and assists (5.09 apg), while shooting 44 percent from the field and 82 percent from the line... She also leads the team with 64 steals... Senior forward Elin Gustavsson is also in double figures, averaging 14.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, and shooting 51 percent from the floor... Colorado State is averaging 65.2 ppg and shooting .424 from the floor, holding opponents to just 53.5 ppg and a .338 field goal percentage.

SERIES NOTES: Sunday marks the first time that UC Davis and Colorado State will meet in women's basketball.

AGGIES IN THE NCAA: UC Davis enters Sunday ranked among the top 50 in the nation in 14 different categories: field goal percentage (#35), field goal percentage defense (#26), free throw percentage (#40), three-point percentage (#24), winning percentage (#32), assists per game (#21), fewest turnovers per game (#43), fewest fouls per game (#24), assist-to-turnover ratio (#22), three-point defense (#20), defensive rebounds per game (#24), fewest turnovers (#40), fewest fouls (#24), and assists (#34), while ranking among the top 100 in eight other categories.

CONFERENCE CALL: UC Davis is a combined 27-19 against the current Mountain West Conference alignment, having faced six of the league's 11 members: Air Force (4-2), Boise State (1-2), Fresno State (1-5), Nevada (9-1), San Diego State (3-2), San Jose State (9-7)... The Aggies are 1-0 against the Mountain West this season, posting a 75-55 win over the Aztecs back on Dec. 2 at The Pavilion... UC Davis has won three straight -- and six of its last seven -- against Mountain West foes dating back to a loss at San Jose State in 2014, having defeated Air Force and San Diego State (twice) in that stretch.

CENTENNIAL STATE SUCCESS: Although the Aggies and the Rams will lock horns for the first time on Sunday, UC Davis has experienced a tremendous amount of success against teams from Colorado, posting a 13-3 mark -- including a school-record 117 points at Metro State on Nov. 13, 1998, and the site of the program's only triple-double in history (Kari Sivesind vs. Emporia State at Regis on Dec. 1, 1995). UC Davis is 2-1 against Denver, 4-0 against Metro State, 3-0 against Regis University, and 4-2 against the Air Force Academy -- going 4-3 in games played within the state.

WIN AND WHERE?: The Aggies have won at least 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 24 wins this season tied the program's Division I Era record, matching that 2010-11 team... Overall, the 24 wins are tied for seventh 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' 12th win on the road on March 17 at Utah is 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 NCAA records are available beginning with the 1981-82 season.

BLOCK PARTY: It was tough sledding inside for the Utes on Friday night as UC Davis finished with a school single-game record 12 blocked shots in its first-round WNIT victory, breaking the mark set against Humboldt State on Feb. 18, 1995. Sophomore Morgan Bertsch finished with a career-high six -- just one off the school record shared by Janae Henning (at San Francisco State in 2001) and Paige Mintun (vs. Pacific in 2011) -- Marly Anderson finished with a career-high five of her own, and junior Rachel Nagel added the final swat.

BLOCK PARTY II: The six blocks by Bertsch brought the Santa Rosa, Calif., native's total to 55 for the year, placing her just one shy of Mintun's single-season record set in 2010-11, and 91 for her career, leaping her past assistant coach Des Abeyta and into sixth on the all-time list, just five back of Staci Stevens (1985-88) for the No. 5 spot. Nine more blocks and Bertsch will become only the fifth Aggie to reach the century mark for her career, joining Mintun (150), Alyson Doherty (147), Kendall Greene (119), and Janae Henning (109).

SWAT TEAM: UC Davis enters Sunday's game with 124 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 one back of the school single-season record of 125 set last year.

SUPER SCORING SOPHOMORE: There are a lot of numbers attached to Morgan Bertsch's 23-point performance on Friday night at Utah: the 10th consecutive double-digit game, her ninth 20-point game of the year, and the 19th 20-point scoring performance of her career. However, the most important number may be 514... as in the number of points she has this season, making her the highest-scoring sophomore in the history of the program. Bertsch passed Sydnee Fipps and her 512 points in 2012-13, for the honor and became only the fifth Aggie to finish with 500-or-more in a 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).

DROPPING DIMES: Continuing the record-setting theme, with her five assists against Utah, sophomore Kourtney Eaton moved into a tie for sixth on the school's single-season list with 130, and matched teammate Dani Nafekh's Division I Era single-season record set just last year. The Longview, Wash., native has finished with at least five assists 11 times this season -- and 22 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 (509) and assists per game (16.4 apg) -- good for No. 34 and No. 21, respectively, as of March 17.

ONE FOR YOU, NONE FOR THEM: In racking up those 130 assists, Eaton has turned the ball over only 51 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 27 of the team's 31 games, while turning the ball over two-or-fewer times in 21 of those contests -- including seven games with zero turnovers. Overall, the Aggies rank No. 22 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.22 as a team as of March 17.

A "GRAND" MILESTONE ON THE HORIZON?: Sophomore Morgan Bertsch stands just 40 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.

ALSO CLOSING IN: Junior Pele Gianotti is close behind Bertsch in the race for 1,000 career points, entering Sunday's contest against Colorado State needing just 186 more points to reach the milestone.

YOU GET A REBOUND! YOU GET A REBOUND!: Everybody crashes the boards for UC Davis, which enters Sunday's game with six players who have grabbed at least 100 rebounds on the season -- the highest number in the Division I Era (the 2010-11 squad had five), and the most active Aggie squad on the boards since the 1996-97 team finished with seven players over the century mark on the glass.

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 seven 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), double-digit wins over CSUN (16 points) and UC Riverside (17 points) following losses to Long Beach State, and a 10-point first-round WNIT win at Utah following a Big West Tournament semifinal loss to UC Santa Barbara.

YOU WON'T LIKE US WHEN WE'RE ANGRY: Opponents beware. In following up all seven of their previous losses with seven wins, the Aggies have won six of those games by double digits, and out-scored the opposition by an average of 19.7 ppg (a total of 567-429).

WIRE-TO-WIRE: UC Davis never trailed in its 2017 postseason debut, marking the seventh time this season that the Aggies have led wire-to-wire -- including a run of four consecutive such wins that spanned a total of 187:21 of game time.

AWARDS SEASON: Trailing probably only the Oscars, Emmy's, and Tony awards, the Aggies came away with some of the most coveted honors when the Big West Conference announced its postseason honor roll. Head Coach Jennifer Gross was named the league's Coach of the Year for the first time in her career, sophomore Morgan Bertsch and junior Pele Gianotti were named to the all-conference first team, junior Dani Nafekh was an all-league second-team selection, and newcomer Nina Bessolo was selected to the all-freshman team. 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 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.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DUTY: Bertsch's 29 double-digit scoring performances this season tie Paige Mintun for the school's Division I single-season record set in 2010-11, while her 50 career double-digit games are tied for fourth with Kasey Riecks (2008-12). Bertsch's nine 20-point games this season are tied for third, while the 19 for her career stand second behind only Sydnee Fipps, who had 32 such games from 2012-15.

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 10 contests -- including a quartet of 20-point games -- averaging 17.9 ppg while shooting .514 (73-for-142) from the field.

FIELD "GOALS": Bertsch enters the team's WNIT second round game with a Division I Era single-season record 205 baskets made -- only the fourth UC Davis player all-time to score at least 200 field goals, and the first since Aimee Conner (238) in 1993. Bertsch ranks third on that list behind Staci Stevens (252 in 1988) and Conner, while standing ahead of the Carol Rische (201 in 1981).

NAGEL NAILS TO START THE POSTSEASON: After being held to single digits in the final seven games of the regular season, junior Rachel Nagel has found her scoring touch to start the postseason finishing with 18 points in the Aggies' Big West Tournament semifinal against UC Santa Barbara, and adding 17 more in UC Davis' WNIT opening round win over Utah. Nagel is shooting 61 percent (14-for-23) from the field in her last two games, including 5-of-8 (.625) from beyond arc.

SHE CAN DISH IT OUT: Junior Dani Nafekh has helped herself right into the UC Davis record books, recording her 281st career assist at Utah, solidifying her hold on the No. 10 spot on the all-time list and standing four 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 (281), Kourtney Eaton (243), Blair Shinoda (223), Alyson Doherty (214), and Celia Marfone (206).

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 69.5 ppg average would top the previous standard of 68.5 ppg set in 2010-11. Entering Sunday's WNIT game with 2,154 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 and the 2,191 points scored last season.