San Diego State awaits Aggies in road opener

Sophomore Pele Gianotti ranks among the top 10 in the Big West in minutes, rebounding, and steals, entering Thursday's game at San Diego State. (Photo by Wayne Tilcock/Davis Enterprise)
Nov. 18, 2015

THIS WEEK...
UC Davis (0-2) at San Diego State (0-2)
Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015
Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, Calif.)
6:30 p.m.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM
TV: None
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Audio | Video | UC Davis notes | SDSU notes

TIP OFF: The UC Davis women’s basketball team (0-2) hits the road for the first time this season, making the short flight to “America’s Finest City” to take on San Diego State to close out the week. The Aggies and the Aztecs (0-2) meet on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl on campus.

IN THE POLLS: Both UC Davis and San Diego State are unranked in both the Associated Press and USA Today preseason polls entering this week’s game.

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 on Facebook (facebook.com/UCDavisWomensBasketball) as well as follow them on Twitter (@UCDavisWBB) and Instagram (instagram.com/ucdaviswbb). In-game updates on game day are also available on Twitter by following @UCDavisInGame.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”: Thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, live Internet audio will be available for all of the Aggies’ contests this season, as well as broadcast locally on KDVS 90.3 FM. Brian Fuller and Andy Clausen will handle the call for most of this year’s contests. Visit the women’s basketball schedule page at UCDavisAggies.com to access the links.

“YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE”: Bringing together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West Conference’s nine member institutions, Big West TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews, and features, including every home and conference contest. Now in its 12th year, Big West TV will again air all of the Aggies’ home and conference clashes FOR FREE during the 2015-16 campaign. Log on to www.bigwest.org/thisweek for weekly schedules or visit the women’s basketball schedule page at UCDavisAggies.com to access the links.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties, live stats for all UC Davis home games, as well as most road contests, are available on your computer and mobile device courtesy the StatBroadcast platform. Visit the women’s basketball schedule page at UCDavisAggies.com or UCDavisLiveStats.com to access the links.

HAPPY HOMECOMING!: There’s no place like home. Well, UC Davis head coach Jennifer Gross is hoping that rings true when she brings her Aggies back to her hometown for this Thursday’s contest against San Diego State. Gross, a San Diego native who prepped at University City HS, spent four years as a coach at her high school alma mater following her UC Davis playing career -- including two seasons as head coach from 2000-02, when she guided the Centurions to a 50-9 overall record. During her four years at UCHS, Gross and the Centurions won four consecutive Western League titles and a pair of CIF San Diego Section banners. From there, she spent two seasons as an assistant coach at San Diego State under head coach Jim Tomey from 2002-04

ABOUT THE AZTECS: Like UC Davis, San Diego State enters the week with losses in its first two games as the Aggies are the third straight Big West Conference opponent for the Mountain West Conference-running Aztecs to start the year... SDSU has fallen on the road at Long Beach State, 74-54, and at home to UC Riverside, 85-68, in its first two games of the season... Sophomore guard McKynzie Fort leads the team offensively to start the year, averaging 16.5 points per game while shooting 36 percent from the floor and hitting 13-of-15 from the line... Senior forward Deidra Smith is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.0 per game, while shooting just under 42 percent from the field and averaging 8.0 ppg... San Diego State was picked to finish sixth in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll, one season after placing seventh in the league... The Aztecs return three starters and seven letter winners from last season’s squad, led by third-year head coach Stacie Terry.

SERIES NOTES: UC Davis and San Diego State have met on only three other occasions, with the Aztecs winning twice... All three contests came during the Aggies’ transition to the Division I level, with the two programs splitting a pair of meetings in December of 2005 -- a UC Davis win, 58-36, on Dec. 3 and an SDSU victory, 59-45, on Dec. 30 -- and the Aztecs posting a seven-point win (59-52) in November of 2006... Thursday’s meeting will mark the third straight contest between the two programs played in San Diego, with the Aggies’ win in 2005 serving as the only match to be played in Northern California.

CONFERENCE CALL: UC Davis is a combined 24-19 against the current Mountain West Conference alignment... The Aggies had a three-game winning streak against the league snapped with their 89-75 loss at San Jose State last season, with all four of those meetings coming against the Spartans... Prior to that, UC Davis hadn’t faced a Mountain West opponent since taking on Boise State (twice) and San Diego State during the 2006-07 season -- all three of those resulting in losses... The Aggies’ last win against the Mountain West came in a 95-61 victory over San Jose State in the fourth game of the 2013-14 campaign at The Pavilion.

LAST TIME OUT - PACIFIC 66, UC DAVIS 53: Sophomores Pele Gianotti and Dani Nafekh each finished with 11 points, while senior Celia Marfone and freshman Morgan Bertsch paced the Aggies on the boards with seven rebounds apiece, but a 10-2 run to start the third quarter by visiting Pacific erased a four-point half-time deficit en route to a 66-53 victory on Nov. 16. Nafekh scored 10 of her 11 points during a second-quarter burst -- including seven straight -- that helped the Aggies to a 35-31 lead at the break, only to have the Tigers rally with back-to-back three-pointers by Hallie Eackles to start the third and, after three free throws from UC Davis, GeAnna Luaulu-Summers ignited the game-breaking rally that pushed the lead out to seven points and Pacific never looked back as the Aggies came no closer than five points the rest of the way.

AGGIES SIGN THREE IN EARLY PERIOD: A pair of Californians and an Oregon native make up a trio of talented frontcourt players who have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers with the UC Davis women’s basketball program, Head Coach Jennifer Gross announced on Nov. 13. Forwards Sophia Song (Monterey Park, Calif. / Mark Keppel HS) and Nina Bessolo (Hayward, Calif. / Castro Valley HS) join post Emma Gibb (McMinnville, Ore. / Western Mennonite School) as early signees for the Aggies, who will begin their careers as true freshmen in 2016-17. The complete release, that includes bios on all of the signees, is available online at http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111315aaf.html.

CENTURY CLUB: A pair of blocks on Monday night against Pacific put senior center Alyson Doherty among a select club at UC Davis, making her only the fourth Aggie to reach 100 career blocks. Having already posted two of the school’s top-10 single-season block marks in the history of the program, Doherty joins Paige Mintun (2006-11), Kendall Greene (1992-96), and Janae Henning (1998-02), among those in the “century club,” placing her just Doherty is just nine back of Henning for third all-time, 19 behind Greene, and 50 back of career leader Mintun. Among the program’s top single-season performances, Doherty blocked 35 shots during both her sophomore and junior years, ranking her in a tie for seventh on the single-season list.

QUE “BELLE”-A: A mere three nights after setting a career high on the glass, sophomore forward Pele Gianotti (who goes by “Belle”) decided to showcase a little bit of her offensive game in Monday night’s battle with Pacific, matching her career high with 11 points against the Tigers to notch only the second career double-digit scoring game as an Aggie. Gianotti finished 3-of-6 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the line to tie her career high scoring mark set against Sacramento State last season, and also finished with six rebounds and a pair of steals in 30 minutes against Pacific.

CRASHING MORE THAN THE BOARDS: If the post tandem of Alyson Doherty and Celia Marfone can clean the glass as well as they did last season, the duo will crash their way into the Aggie career record books in the process. Doherty (523) and Marfone (490) are both within striking distance of Jessica Campbell (2003-06, 2007-08) and Sarah Allen (1998-03), who are tied for ninth with 591 career rebounds to their name. The career record is held by Carol Rische, who grabbed 1,028 boards from 1978-83.

MORE ON MARFONE: In fact, Marfone’s 208 rebounds last season were quite a feat as the Laguna Hills, California, native became the first Aggie to grab at least 200 rebounds in a season since Lara Gray (204) in 2005 and posted the highest single-season total by an Aggie since Colleen Turnbull grabbed 278 boards in 2003. The single season record is held by Lisa Jo Kellogg, who finished with 301 rebounds during the 1990-91 campaign -- accounting for nearly half her career total of 698 that ranks fourth all time.

ROAD WARRIORS: Since making the jump to Division I in 2007-08, UC Davis has had a tremendous amount of success when opening on the road, as the Aggies have gone 6-2 in their eight road starters, snapping a two-game skid with a win at Sacramento State last season. UC Davis has posted wins over Washington (2011), San Francisco (2010), Seattle (2009), Southern Utah (2008), and Hawai’i (2007), in that span.

AGGIES FOR FREEEEE!: “To the line for the Aggies...” was a familiar refrain at The Pavilion on the Monday night against Pacific, as UC Davis attempted 31 free throws against the Tigers -- the most in a single game for the Aggies since they attempted 36 (making 31) at home against UC Santa Barbara in an 82-70 win on Feb. 1, 2014.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE: An 0-2 start to the season might set off alarm bells for some, but not the Aggies, who have opened that way in three of the last four seasons, only to bounce back and post double-digit win totals while securing a spot in the Big West Conference tournament in each of those campaigns. UC Davis’ last 0-3 start to a season came in 2013-14 when the Aggies were tested against a similar slate that included losses to USC, Pacific, and Stanford, before claiming their first win of the season against a Mountain West Conference opponent (San Jose State).

SO... HOW ‘BOUT THEM AGGIES?: The Aggies return a pair of starters and nine players overall off of last season’s squad that finished 15-16 overall and 8-8 in Big West Conference play to end in a tie for fifth. Wins over UC Irvine and Long Beach State in the first two rounds of the conference tournament propelled UC Davis into the semifinals for the first time since 2011, where the Aggies fell to tournament champion CSUN.

ACCOLADES FOR ALY: Senior center Alyson Doherty was one of six student-athletes named to the preseason All-Big West team announced by the league office on Oct. 27. She is one of four seniors on the all-upperclassman squad as selected by a media panel, joined by UC Riverside’s Brittany Crain and Annelise Ito, and Hawai’i’s Ashleigh Karaitiana, along with juniors Mokun Fajemisin of UC Irvine and Raven Benton of Long Beach State. Doherty was also one of 10 student-athletes named to the College Sports Madness All-Big West squad, joining Crain, Benton, Ito, and Fajemisin, on the first team.

AGGIES PICKED SIXTH IN BIG WEST RACE: UC Davis was picked to finish sixth in the league by a media panel that covers Big West women’s basketball with 75 points, finishing ahead of fellow tournament semifinalist Cal State Fullerton (46), UC Irvine (38), and UC Santa Barbara (26). Defending regular season champion Hawai’i was picked to repeat, garnering 13 of the 17 first-place votes and 147 points overall. UC Riverside (two first-place votes, 127 points), Cal Poly (one first-place vote, 107 points), CSUN (100 points), and Long Beach State (one first-place vote, 99 points), round out the top five.

TOURNEY-TESTED SCHEDULE: A total of 11 games against opponents that reached the postseason a year ago, including a season-opening clash with NCAA “Sweet 16” star Stanford, highlights the Aggies’ 29-game regular season schedule for 2015-16. UC Davis faces off against NCAA Tournament participants Albany (first round), Stanford (“Sweet 16”), and CSUN (first round), which are joined by WNIT selections Pacific (first round), Saint Mary’s (quarterfinals), Sacramento State (third round), Long Beach State (first round), and Hawai’i (first round), on this year’s slate.

LET’S PLAY TWO: Harkening back to their old Division II days, the Aggies will join the UC Davis men’s team on the floor for five doubleheaders this season -- including four of those in Big West Conference play. Following the season-opening twinbill against Stanford, the Aggies will face UC Irvine (Jan. 14), UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 30), Cal State Fullerton (Feb. 13), and CSUN (Feb. 27), in the first game of a double-dip with the men’s squad, which will take on CSUN, Cal Poly, Long Beach State, and UC Irvine, respectively, after their season opener against North Dakota State on Nov. 13 that precedes the women’s contest against the Cardinal.

SEEING DOUBLE: When Karley (older by one minute) and Kourtney Eaton take the floor for the first time, it is believed to be only the second time in the history of the program that UC Davis women’s basketball will have had sisters take the floor together in the same season for the Aggies, joining Dru and Rachelle Hanft during the 1999 campaign. Taking it one step further, both sets of sisters are identical twins.

BY THE NUMBERS: With nine letterwinners returning for the 2015-16 season, the Aggies have a lot to work with. UC Davis returns 59 percent (1,178 of 2,010) of its points, 72 percent (785 of 1085) of its rebounds, 61 percent (434 of 717) of its made baskets, 65 percent (309 of 473) of its assists, and 52 percent (102 of 198) of its steals from the previous year. What does it all mean? We don’t know, but numbers are fun.

DECADE OF DOMINANCE AT THE PAVILION: The Aggies have defended the home court well over the last 12 seasons, winning nearly two-thirds of their contests at The Pavilion to the tune of a combined 101-61 (.623) record dating back to 2003-04. In that span, UC Davis has suffered a losing home record only twice in 2008-09 (5-8) and 2012-13 (5-9) while posting double-digit win totals four times, including a high of 12 wins against only three defeats in 2010-11.

WELCOME, STEPHANIE!: Long-time assistant coach and former UC Santa Barbara standout Stephanie Shadwell has joined the UC Davis women’s basketball staff as the Director of Basketball Operations it was announced on Sept. 10. Shadwell takes over for the departed Heidi Heintz, who was named an assistant coach at UC San Diego. Shadwell comes to the Aggies after spending the 2014-15 campaign as an assistant at Cal State San Marcos, helping the Cougars to a 16-16 overall record and a second consecutive Association of Independent Institutions Conference title. CSUSM won 10 of its final 14 games en route to a berth in the NAIA Division I Championships. Read the complete release online at: http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/091015aaa.html.

AGGIES INVADE EUROPE: The now-graduated trio of standouts Sydnee Fipps, Kelsey Harris, and Briana Salvatore, skipped right over taking their talents to South Beach, hopping a plane for Europe to compete professionally on an international stage. Harris was the first to sign, as the sharpshooter inked a deal to play for the WSG ‘81 Koenigs Wusterhausen Red Dragons in August in the German 2nd Bundesliga. Fipps followed suit, signing a six-month contract to play for Clube Desportivo Torres Nova in Portugal in September, and was followed quickly by Salvatore, who wrapped up an internship as a public relations specialist with the IDIAP Research Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, before joining Esperance sportive Pully in the Swiss Ligue Nationale de Basket.

Stats (as of Nov. 11, 2015... via Eurobasket.com)
                             GP    PPG    RPG    APG
Kelsey Harris          6    7.8    3.0    1.7
Sydnee Fipps          4    6.0    5.5    0.5
Brianna Salvatore    5    13.4    9.0    4.8

GREUBEL SIDELINED: Due to complications from the wrist injury that kept her out of all but the first three games of the 2014-15 season, UC Davis junior guard Molly Greubel will be sidelined for the 2015-16 season. The Santa Ana, California, native was coming off her best offensive season of her career in 2013-14, averaging a career-high 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds, while posting 104 assists (3.35 apg) over 31 games (27 starts) as a sophomore. She set a school single-game record with 14 assists against UC Irvine on Feb. 8, 2014, breaking a mark that had stood for 24 years (Sara Lillevand, 13 assists vs. Cal State Stanislaus, March 10, 1990) and became the first Aggie with at least 10 assists in a game (Greubel had 11 in the first half alone against the Anteaters) since Kim Omer had 10 against San Francisco State in 2004.

The Last Meeting
UC Davis52
San Diego State59
November 17, 2006
San Diego, Calif.
Aztecs Take Advantage Of Aggies' Cold-Shooting For 59-52 Victory
Jennifer Layton scored 20 points while Shanna Demus added 12 on Friday night as San Diego State posted a 59-52 nonconference women's basketball win at Cox Arena over UC Davis, which shot just 33 percent from the field. The loss dropped the Aggies' early-season record to 0-3 while the Aztecs evened their mark at 1-1. Senior Laura Thomas had 12 points to lead three UC Davis players in double figures while senior Heather Bates had a game-high 11 rebounds. Guard Genevieve Costello had 11 points for UC Davis while Kirsten Commins added 10.