Aggies' season opens with WNIT rematch at The Pavilion

Nov. 8, 2017

THIS WEEK…
(RV/--) Washington State (16-20, 6-12 Pac-12 in 2016-17) at UC Davis (25-8, 14-2 Big West in 2016-17)
Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 | 7:00 p.m. | The Pavilion (5,931) | Davis, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong... COLOR: Max Agress)
FOLLOW: Live Stats | Live Video | Tickets | UC Davis Notes | Washington State Notes

Pepperdine (7-23, 5-13 West Coast in 2016-17) at UC Davis (25-8, 14-2 Big West in 2016-17)
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2017 | 2:00 p.m. | The Pavilion (5,931) | Davis, Calif.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong... COLOR: Max Agress)
FOLLOW: Live Stats | Live Video | Tickets | UC Davis Notes | Pepperdine Notes

TIP-OFF: The defending Big West Conference champion UC Davis women’s basketball team officially tips-off its 2017-18 campaign with a pair of home games this week, welcoming Washington State and Pepperdine to Northern California. The Aggies and Cougars meet in a rematch of last year’s Women’s National Invitation Tournament “Sweet 16” clash on Friday night (Nov. 10) at 7 p.m., before hosting the Waves on Sunday (Nov. 12) at 2 p.m.

AGGIES RECEIVE LOVE IN COLLEGE INSIDER MID-MAJOR POLL: UC Davis will begin the season with a little national attention, ranking No. 20 in the nation according to the CollegeInsider.com Preseason Mid-Major poll released on Oct. 31. The Aggies return to the poll after spending four consecutive weeks among those receiving votes from Feb. 14 to March 7 last season. UC Davis debuted in last season’s mid-major poll on Dec. 13 and picked up a season-high 11 votes in the rankings on Jan. 10 after opening Big West play with a 2-0 mark.

IN THE POLLS: UC Davis is unranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today top 25 polls... Washington State is receiving one vote in the preseason AP poll... Pepperdine is unranked.

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 @UCDavisWBB.

BY THE NUMBERS: Losing only one player off of last season’s roster means Head Coach Jennifer Gross has an embarassment of riches statistically to work with for the 2017-18 campaign. The Aggies bring back all but 17 of their 2,274 points, all but 20 of their 1,242 rebounds, all but seven of their 533 assists, all but five of their 846 field goals made, every one of their 252 three-pointers, and all but seven of their free throws, from the 2016-17 season. What does it all mean? We don’t know, but numbers are fun.

ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars are fresh off a season that saw them finish 16-20 overall and 6-12 in the Pacific-12 Conference, but earned the league’s automatic berth into the WNIT, advancing to the semifinals... Washington State boasted five scorers in double-figures in a, 95-57, win over The Masters University, getting 15 points from Alexys Swedlund and a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds from Kayla Washington... Swedlund was one of four Cougars in double figures last season, averaging 11.9 ppg.

SERIES NOTES: Washington State leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 2-1, following last year’s meeting in the WNIT... UC Davis’ win in the series came on Nov. 14, 2010, at home, posting a 77-38 victory at The Pavilion... The Cougars won the inaugural meeting, 64-54, on Nov. 15, 2009, in Pullman, Wash.

ABOUT PEPPERDINE: Decimated by injuries last season, the Waves lost their last five games to close out the season and struggled to a 7-23 overall record in 2016-17, but returns six of their top seven scorers from a season ago... Junior forward Yasmine Robinson-Bacote led Pepperdine in scoring at 14.8 ppg and rebounding at 8.7 rpg en route to All-West Coast Conference first team honors... The Waves open the year at Long Beach State on Friday (Nov. 10) before heading north to take on the Aggies.

SERIES NOTES: Pepperdine leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 3-1, but the two programs haven’t met on the basketball court since the 2012-13 season, an 83-68 win by the Waves on Nov. 9 in Davis, Calif... UC Davis’ only win in the series came on Nov. 19, 2010, in a 70-62 victory in Malibu, Calif... The only other two meetings came at a neutral site in 1977 and 1987.

CONFERENCE CALL: UC Davis is a combined 22-28 against the current Pacific-12 Conference alignment, finishing 1-3 against the league last season -- including a 1-1 mark in the postseason... The win over Utah in the first round of the WNIT snapped a nine-game losing streak against Pac-12 opponents... The Aggies have faced nine of the league’s 12 current members: Arizona State (0-3), California (7-3), Oregon State (0-3), Stanford (10-12), UCLA (0-2), USC (1-1), Utah (1-1), Washington (2-1), and Washington State (1-2)... The Cougars will be the first of two Pac-12 opponents for UC Davis this season as the Aggies travel to Corvallis, Ore., to take on Oregon State on Dec. 20... UC Davis is 43-51 all-time against the West Coast Conference, boasting a perfect 4-0 mark against the league last season with wins over Portland, Pacific, San Francisco, and Saint Mary’s... The Aggies have faced seven of the conference’s 10 members: Pepperdine (1-3), Portland (2-2), San Francisco (6-7), Pacific (14-13), Saint Mary’s (12-12), Santa Clara (8-11), and Gonzaga (0-3)... The Waves are the first of four WCC opponents for UC Davis this season as the Aggies will take on Pacific (Nov. 20), San Francisco (Dec. 6), and Saint Mary’s (Dec. 9), later this year.

SO… HOW ‘BOUT THEM AGGIES?: UC Davis returns all five starters and all but one player off of last season’s squad that finished 25-8 overall and 14-2 in the Big West Conference to clinch the regular season title. Although they were eliminated in the semifinals of the league tournament, the Aggies earned the program’s first-ever postseason victory with a win at Utah in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, and advanced all the way to the event’s round of 16 before falling on the road at Washington State. Junior post, and biomedical engineering major, Morgan Bertsch leads the way offensively after averaging 15.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game en route to All-Big West first team honors, while fellow first-teamer, Pele Gianotti, and second-team selection, Dan Nafekh, were also in double figures at 11.2 and 11.0 ppg, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT...
UC DAVIS 77, ACADEMY OF ART 34: Junior Morgan Bertsch finished with a game-high 14 points in 18 points, while senior Pele Gianotti added a game-high 11 rebounds, to lead the Aggies to a win in their exhibition over over Academy of Art. Sophomore Nina Bessolo added 13 points in 20 minutes off the bench, helping UC Davis lead wire-to-wire. The Aggies, who led by as many as 48 points on the night, led for all but 37 seconds when the game was tied, shooting better than 45 percent from the field in three of the four quarters.

LID LIFTERS: Friday’s contest against Washington State marks the sixth consecutive season that the Aggies will open the year in front of the hometown faithful, snapping a four-game skid in season openers following last year’s, 66-52, victory over Portland at The Pavilion... UC Davis is 24-19 all-time in season-openers dating back to the 1974-75 campaign, including an 11-8 mark at home in that span (with the locations of three games unknown)... The Aggies are 6-4 in their last 10 season (and home) openers... UC Davis has opened its home schedule against the Cougars on one other occassion, a 77-38 win in 2010, and faced Pepperdine in a season opener in 2012-13, falling to the Waves, 83-68.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB: Although the game didn’t offically count in the records, a trio of Aggie freshmen made their collegiate debuts last week against Academy of Art as freshmen Sage Stobbart and Cierra Hall got their first taste of Division I basketball. Joining them, redshirt freshman Emma Gibb, who played eight minutes against the Urban Knights -- her first action on the court since her junior year of high school after missing her senior prep season and the 2016-17 collegiate campaign due to injury.

DANI FOR THREE!: Nafekh was downright deadly from outside the arc, draining 61 three pointers and shooting .462 from long distance to pace the Aggies in both categories. Nafekh became the third straight UC Davis player to lead the Big West Conference in three-point percentage, joining former teammates Kelsey Harris (.483 in 2015) and Celia Marfone (.422 in 2016). As a team, the Aggies shot .364 from three-point range last season -- the second time in the last three years that they have led the Big West in that category.

#PROTECTTHEPAVILION: After tying the program’s Division I record with a 12-2 mark at The Pavilion last season, the Aggies open a run of four consecutive home contests to start the 2017-18 season on Friday night against Washington State. UC Davis has won 16 of its last 19 on its home floor, and are a combinbed 49-32 (.605) at The Pavilion under Head Coach Jennifer Gross.

AGGIES WEARING BIG WEST TARGET: UC Davis was picked to repeat as Big West Conference champions by both the coaches and media, according to a vote released on Oct. 25. The Aggies received six of the nine first-place votes from the coaches and 16 of the 19 first-place nods cast by the media en route to the top spots. UC Davis finished with 77 points overall in the coaches poll to shade second-place CSUN (69) and UC Santa Barbara (63), while collecting 166 points in the media poll, to out-place the Matadors (148) and Gauchos (112).

DAVIS DUO ARE PRESEASON PICKS: The Aggies placed a pair of returning starters on the coaches’ six-member preseason all-conference team in junior post Morgan Bertsch and senior forward Pele Gianotti -- both All-Big West first team picks a season ago -- while Bertsch was also selected to the preseason all-league squad by the media. Bertsch earned a spot on the conference’s preseason squad for the second straight season, while Gianotti became the sixth UC Davis player to earn preseason laurels, joining Bertsch, Haylee Donaghe, Paige Mintun, Sydnee Fipps, and Alyson Doherty.

TOURNEY TESTED SCHEDULE: A non-conference schedule that features six postseason teams from a year ago, and eight that finished among the top 150 in the final RPI rankings, sets the scene for the the Aggies in 2017-18. UC Davis will take on a pair of NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago in Oregon State and Big West rival Long Beach State, while Washington State (semifinals), Seattle (first round), Saint Mary’s (first round), UCF (second round), and Fordham (second round), all made the postseason WNIT field.

MILESTONE WATCH: Bertsch, who set the school record for the most points by a sophomore with 520, enters her junior season 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. Should she reach the mark, the Santa Rosa, Calif., native would become only the fourth junior to accomplish the feat at UC Davis, joining former greats Carol Rische, Ellen Porshneva, and Sydnee Fipps.

ALSO CLOSE: Bertsch may not be the only Aggie who could reach the 1,000-point milestone this season, as three of her teammates are also within striking distance. Senior Pele Gianotti, a political science major, is just 163 shy of 1,000 for her career, followed by classmate Rachel Nagel, a psychology major who needs only 293 points after finishing with 317 last season. Senior guard Dani Nafekh also has an outside chance of reaching the 1,000-point plateau this season, but if she repeats her scoring exploits of last year (352 points), the milestone is attainable as the managerial economics major needs 351 points to hit the mark.

HELP THEM, HELP YOU: Nafekh, along with junior guard Kourtney Eaton, continue their respective assaults on the Aggie record books in 2017-18. Nafekhm whose 130 assists last year rank seventh on the all-time single-season list, enters the year ranked 10th all-time in career assists with 284, just one back of Hana Asano (2008-12) for ninth all-time and the program’s Division I record. Meanwhile, Eatons’ 142 assists were a program Division I record and placed her in a tie with Sara Lillevand (1989-90) for second on the all-time single-season list, while her 255 career assists rank third in the program’s Division I history.

BERTSCH’S BLOCK BONANZA: With her two blocks against Washington State in last year’s season finale, Bertsch set a new school record with 57 swats in 2016-17 and enters the new season with 93 for her career -- just seven shy of becoming the fifth player in school history to reach the century mark in that category. The biomedical engineering major from Santa Rosa, Calif., stands just 57 blocks shy of Paige Mintun (2006-11) and her 150 blocks for the career record.

LET’S PLAY TWO!: Ernie Banks would be proud. The UC Davis women’s basketball team will be the opening act in four home doubleheaders with the men’s team this season: San Francisco (Dec. 6), UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 27), CSUN (Feb. 10), and UC Irvine (Feb. 24). The Aggies have won eight straight doubleheader dates, 14 of their last 15, and are 21-4 in their half of a twinbill during the Division I era -- including an 11-2 mark against Big West opponents. In 25 all-time home doubleheaders, both the UC Davis men’s and women’s teams have swept both ends of the doubleheader 13 times, including six of the last eight.

WIN AND WHERE?: Wrapping up a record-setting 2016-17 campaign…
• The Aggies 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 25 wins this season are a new Division I era record and the most for a UC Davis team since the Aggies finished 25-4 during the 1998-99 season...
• Overall, the 25 wins are tied for third in a single season, sitting behind a 26-5 season in 1990-91 and a record 29-3 mark in 1996-97...
• The Aggies’ 25 wins are the most by a Big West Conference school since former member Pacific finished 27-8 in 2012-13...
• 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 mark for home victories by finishing 12-2 at The Pavilion, equalling the 2010-11 squad that finished 12-3...
• UC Davis’ 13th win on the road on March 19 at Colorado State is a new Division I era mark for victories away from home, breaking the record set in 2010-11 (10-6), and posting the most since NCAA records are available beginning with the 1981-82 season.

STATE OF THE AGGIES: Half of the 16-member 2017-18 UC Davis women’s basketball roster is made up of players from outside the state of California -- the highest number of out-of-state student-athletes in the program’s Division I history. The eight out-of-staters have a decided Pacific Northwest tilt as the Aggie coaching staff has successfully mined the state of Oregon for three players (Pele Gianotti, Marly Anderson, and Emma Gibb), two more from Washington (Kourtney and Karley Eaton), and another from British Columbia (Sage Stobbart) -- giving UC Davis a pair of Canadians along with senior Dani Nafekh (Ontario). Transfer guard Katie Toole, who must sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, hails from Farmington, Utah -- the first “Beehive State” native in the program’s Division I history.

SEEING DOUBLE: Karley (older by one minute) and Kourtney Eaton are believed to be only the second set of sisters to take the floor together in the history of the women’s basketball program, joining Dru and Rachelle Hanft, who played together during the 1999 campaign. Taking it one step further, both the Eaton’s and Hanft’s are identical twins.