Aggies picked to repeat as Big West champs

Oct. 25, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. -- Returning all but one player off of last season's squad that advanced three rounds deep in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, the defending Big West Conference regular season champion UC Davis women's basketball team was picked to repeat by both the coaches and media the league office announced on Wednesday.

The Aggies tip-off their 2017-17 season on Nov. 3 with an exhibition against Academy of Art at 5 p.m., before welcoming Washington State to The Pavilion in the regular season opener on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in a rematch of their WNIT "Sweet 16" clash. Season tickets are now available online at UCDavisAggies.com.

UC Davis received six of the nine first-place votes from the coaches and 16 of the 19 first-place votes cast by the media en route to the top spots. The Aggies finished with 77 points overall in the coaches poll to shade second-place CSUN (69) and UC Santa Barbara (63), while collecting 166 points overall in the media poll to out-pace the Matadors (148) and Gauchos (112).

Bringing back all five starters and 10 letter winners overall for the 2017-18 season, UC Davis placed a pair of returning starters on the coaches' six-member preseason all-conference team in junior forward Morgan Bertsch and senior forward Pele Gianotti -- who were also All-Big West first team honorees last season -- while Bertsch was also selected to the preseason all-league squad by the media.

A biomedical engineering major from Santa Rosa, Calif., Bertsch enters the year on the verge of a milestone, needing just 34 more points to become the 18th player in the history of the program to reach 1,000 for her career. Averaging 15.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 33 starts last season, Bertsch posted the fourth-highest single-season point total -- and the most by a sophomore -- in the history of the program with 520.

Gianotti, a political science major from Myrtle Creek, Ore., is also closing in on the 1,000-point plateau, needing just 163 points this season after averaging 11.2 ppg and a team-best 5.8 rpg in 33 starts, shooting .456 from the floor and .376 from beyond the arc. She finished the season ranked among the Big West's leaders five different categories and led the Aggies with three double-doubles on the year against Portland, San Francisco, and Hawaii.

The Aggies also return their three other starters in all-conference second team selection senior guard Dani Nafekh (11.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg), junior guard Kourtney Eaton (6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.4 apg), and senior guard Rachel Nagel (9.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.5 apg), a trio that helped UC Davis finished 25-8 overall, 14-2 in Big West play, and post the program's first-ever postseason victories with wins over Utah and Colorado State on the road in the first two rounds of the WNIT. Overall, the 25 wins and the 14 Big West victories were both program Division I records.

BIG WEST PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. UC DAVIS (6) - 77 points
2. CSUN (2) - 69
3. UC Santa Barbara - 63
4. Hawai'i - 49
5. UC Riverside - 46
6. Cal Poly (1) - 44
7. Long Beach State - 25
8. UC Irvine - 24
9. Cal State Fullerton - 9

BIG WEST PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
1. UC DAVIS (16) - 166 points
2. CSUN (2) - 148
3. UC Santa Barbara - 112
t4. Hawai'i - 98
t4. Cal Poly - 98
6. UC Riverside - 91
7. Long Beach State (1) - 81
8. UC Irvine - 37
9. Cal State Fullerton - 24

PRESEASON COACHES ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Morgan Bertsch - UC Davis
Drew Edelman - UC Santa Barbara
Pele Gianotti - UC Davis
Channon Fluker - CSUN
Lynn Leaupepe - Cal Poly
Sarah Toeaina - Hawai'i

PRESEASON MEDIA ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Morgan Bertsch - UC Davis
Drew Edelman - UC Santa Barbara
Channon Fluker - CSUN
Dynn Leaupepe - Cal Poly
Lynn Leaupepe - Cal Poly
Sarah Toeaina - Hawai'i