Aggies look to tame Tigers in first road game of the year

Freshman Nina Bessolo posted career highs in points (16) and rebounds (eight) in the Aggies win over Holy Names last weekend. (Photo by Wayne Tilcock/Davis Enterprise)
Nov. 18, 2016

NEXT UP...
GAME 3: UC Davis (2-0) at Pacific (1-1)
Monday, Nov. 21, 2016
7:00 p.m.
The Pavilion (5,931)
Davis, Calif.
TV: None
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM
Game Coverage: Gameday Central | UC Davis Notes | Pacific WBB

TIP-OFF: Off to its first 2-0 start to a season in four years (more on that later), the UC Davis women’s basketball team hits the road for the first time -- albeit a short jaunt down the freeway -- this year, making the trip to Stockton, Calif., to take on former Big West Conference rival Pacific at the Spanos Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

IN THE POLLS: UC Davis is unranked to begin the season; However, the Aggies are scheduled to meet a pair of schools that are ranked in the preseason top 25: Stanford opens the season at No. 10 and Oregon State is ranked No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

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.

ABOUT THE TIGERS: Pacific enters the week with a 1-1 overall record after opening the season with a loss at No. 9 UCLA (82-55) and a home win over UC Merced (111-50)... The Tigers will travel to the Bay Area to take on San Jose State on Nov. 18 before hosting the Aggies... Junior guard GeAnna Luaulu-Summers has paced the offense thus far this season, averaging 15.5 ppg in two starts, shooting .533 from the floor while averaging 8.5 rpg... She also leads the team in assists (13) and steals (seven), while hitting all 11 of her free throws to start the year... Pacific finished 13-17 overall and 6-12 in the West Coast Conference a season ago to tie for seventh, but ranked fifth in the league at nearly 70 points per game.

SERIES NOTES: According to records that date back to 1978, the series between the Aggies and the Tigers is all tied up at 13 wins apiece, but Pacific has won five of the last six meetings with UC Davis, including a, 66-53, decision last year at The Pavilion... The Aggies’ last win in the series came on Nov. 29, 2014, with a 60-53 decision at home... UC Davis is 5-7 against the Tigers in Stockton, having lost its last two trips to the Spanos Center dating back to a, 65-61, victory on Feb. 25, 2012, when both were members of the Big West Conference.

CONFERENCE CALL: The Aggies are 40-51 all-time against the West Coast Conference, including a 1-0 mark this season after opening the year with a 14-point win over Portland at The Pavilion on Nov. 11... The win over the Pilots was only the fourth in the last 11 meetings with WCC schools for the Aggies... UC Davis has faced seven of the league’s 10 members: Pepperdine (1-3), Portland (2-2), San Francisco (5-7), Pacific (13-13), Saint Mary’s (11-12), Santa Clara (8-11), and Gonzaga (0-3)... The Aggies will face two more WCC schools this season: Saint Mary’s at home on Dec. 11, at San Francisco on Dec. 21.

AGS OFF TO UNBEATEN START: After snapping a four-year skid when it came to season openers, wins over Portland and Holy Names have UC Davis at 2-0 to start a campaign for the first time since the 2011-12 season when the Aggies began the year with an unblemished 5-0 start thanks to wins over Washington, Seattle, San Jose State, Wichita State, and San Francisco.

MAKING THEIR POINT: The Aggies’ 91 points against Holy Names were the most since they put up the same number in a, 91-36, win over Cal State Monterey Bay on Dec. 6 of last season. UC Davis’ 54.8 percent shooting performance against the Hawks was also a season best, and its highest since the Aggies shot 59.3 percent at home against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 30, 2016.

SMOTHERED: While the offense was busy pouring in 91 points, the Aggies defense was also doing a number against Holy Names on Sunday, holding the Hawks to just .253 shooting from the field -- a season-low and the best for a UC Davis’ defensive unit since it held Cal State Fullerton to a .246 field goal percentage on Jan. 24, 2013, in an 88-44 win over the Titans.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Five Aggies finished in double figures in their win over Holy Names on Sunday -- the most double-digit scorers in a single game since they had the same number against UC Riverside in their Big West Conference Tournament semifinal win last season. UC Davis has won its 10 games (including a 7-0 mark last year) when they have four-or-more players finish in double figures dating back to a, 73-70, loss to San Francisco on Dec. 2, 2014.

PERFECTION: Yes, it’s only two games into the season, but Karley Eaton hasn’t missed much of anything to start her sophomore campaign. Karley is a perfect 4-for-4 from the field (including making her only three-point attempt) and 2-for-2 from the line, scoring 11 points to go with a pair of rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes per contest off the bench.

#PROTECTTHEPAVILION: With the two wins to start this season, the Aggies have won three straight at home and six of their last seven at The Pavilion dating back to last year, improving to 39-30 (.565) at home in Head Coach Jennifer Gross’ five-plus seasons at the helm.

THREE-CO-LA!: A big part of the Aggies’ season-opening success has been the team’s accuracy from beyond the arc, shooting just north of 40 percent from three-point range this season. UC Davis ranks No. 12 in the nation with its 19 three-pointers made (Gonzaga is No. 1 with 27) and No. 22 in the country with 47 three-point attempts on the year.

MORGAN GETS HER GROOVE BACK: After being held to just four field goal attempts in the season opener against Portland, sophomore Morgan Bertsch broke out in a big was against Holy Names, finishing 7-of-10 from the field en route to a season-high 14 points in 17 minutes. The Santa Rosa, Calif., native is a combined 9-of-14 from the floor this season, shooting .643 in the first two games, just a season after ranking No. 7 in the nation with a .582 field goal percentage.

MORE FOR MORGAN: Dating back to last season, Bertsch has reached double figures in each of her last 10 games, averaging 17.6 ppg and shooting just under 64 percent (67-for-105) from the floor during that stretch.

GIANOTTI GOES OFF: Doing her best to one-up her 20-point, 12-rebound season debut against Portland, junior Pele Gianotti helped lead a balanced scoring effort against Holy Names, finishing 5-of-6 from the field en route to a 15-point, four-rebound, four-assist, afternoon against the Hawks. The 20 points against the Pilots were the most for the Oregon native since she scored 20 points against Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 13, 2016, while the 15 points against Holy Names gave her a pair of double-digit scoring performances on the year -- matching her total from the final eight games of the 2015-16 campaign.

BESS-OH-LOW? NO... BESS-OH-HIGH: The Hayward, Calif., native did just that on Sunday against Holy Names as freshman Nina Bessolo came off the bench to lead the Aggies with career high’s of 16 points (6-of-9 from the floor) and eight rebounds against the Hawks, including four makes from beyond the arc and a pair of blocks.

SHE CAN DISH IT OUT: Fresh off a season that saw junior Dani Nafekh set a school single-season Division I Era record with 130 assists last season, the Oakville, Ontario, Canada, native picked up right where she left off on Nov. 11 against Portland, recording five helpers in the Aggies’ win, and adding five more against Holy Names two days later. The total gives her 206 for her career, making her only the fifth UC Davis player to reach that plateau in the program’s Division I history, joining Hana Asano (278), Blair Shinoda (223), Alyson Doherty (214), and Celia Marfone (206), while placing her 68 shy of Jessica Campbell (2003-06, 2007-08) for 10th on the all-time list.

FRESHMEN FIRSTS: Newcomers Nina Bessolo, Sophia Song, and Kaitlyn Hsu, all made their first appearances at the Division I level on Nov. 11 against Portland, with Bessolo the first of the freshmen to break into the scoring column with a second quarter three-pointer, while Song recorded a rebound in two minutes. Song broke into the scoring column for the first time against Holy Names, coming off the bench to finish with eight points and a pair of rebounds in 23 minutes.

SO... HOW ‘BOUT THEM AGGIES?: UC Davis returns seven letter winners overall and three starters off of last season’s squad that finished 19-13 overall and advanced all the way to the Big West Conference Tournament championship game as the No. 4 seed, including upsetting top-seeded UC Riverside in the semifinals -- a team that finished the regular season a perfect 16-0 in conference play. Gone are all-conference selections Alyson Doherty (first team) and Celia Marfone (honorable mention), but the Aggies return leading scorer Morgan Bertsch, who averaged 13.9 ppg en route to second-team honors as well as a spot on the all-freshman squad, and honorable mention selection Pele Gianotti, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and ranked among the top 15 in the Big West in six different categories.

HSU JOINS THE ROSTER: UC Davis picked up another newcomer for its 2016-17 roster prior to the start of the season, welcoming walk-on Kaitlyn Hsu to the Aggie family. Hsu, a four-year letter winner at Northwood HS in Irvine, Calif., is a neurobiology, physiology, and behavior major who averaged better than 14 points per game during her senior season, while earning All-CIF and All-Pacific Coast League honors as a junior, setting school records in scoring (20.5 ppg) and three-pointers (70).

AGGIES RECEIVE HIGH PRAISE IN PRESEASON POLLS: The UC Davis women’s basketball team received high praise from the coaches and media, picked to finish second by the Big West Conference head coaches and fourth by the media during the 2016-17 according to the league’s preseason polls released on Oct. 25. The runner-up in last year’s Big West Tournament, the Aggies received 61 points from the coaches to finish behind only Long Beach State, which received five of the nine first-place votes and 73 points overall. In the media poll, UC Davis received one first-place vote and garnered 113 points overall to place behind the 49ers (nine first-place nods, 157 points), UC Riverside, and Hawai’i -- all of which reached the semifinals of last year’s conference tournament.

BERTSCH EARNS PRESEASON HONORS: UC Davis sophomore Morgan Bertsch was one of six student-athletes named to the league’s preseason all-conference team -- the fourth consecutive season that the Aggies have had a player so honored. Bertsch becomes the fifth UC Davis player to earn a spot on the preseason all-conference squad, joining two-time preseason honorees Haylee Donaghe, Paige Mintun, and Sydnee Fipps, as well as 2015 selection, Alyson Doherty.

TOURNEY-TESTED SCHEDULE: UC Davis is scheduled to play a total of 12 contests against teams that reached the postseason a year ago, including road contests at “Final Four” participant Oregon State (Dec. 14) and NCAA regional finalist Stanford (Dec. 4). Aside from the Beavers and Cardinal, the Aggies will also take on NCAA Tournament participants San Francisco, Jacksonville, and Big West Tournament champion Hawai’i, and face-off against WNIT qualifiers UC Riverside, Long Beach State, Montana State, Saint Mary’s, and Hofstra. The Pride advanced the furthest of any of the WNIT qualifiers on UC Davis’ schedule, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to eventual tournament runner-up, and Atlantic Sun Conference rival, Florida Gulf Coast.

LET’S PLAY TWO: Harkening back to their old Division II days, the Aggies will join the men’s team on the floor at the Pavilion for a quartet of home doubleheaders this season -- all during Big West play -- while preceeding the UC Davis men for a pair on the road at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 2 and 4, respectively. In a rematch of last year’s Big West Tournament championship game, the Aggies host Hawai’i on Jan. 7 (men vs. Cal Poly), UC Davis welcomes Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 28 (men vs. UC Irvine), face-off against UC Irvine on Feb. 11 (men vs. UC Riverside), and close out the home schedule with a “Senior Day” battle against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 25 (men vs. Long Beach State).

HOME, SWEET HOME: UC Davis women’s basketball fans will be able to get their fill of the Aggies to start the 2016-17 season, as they will play eight of their first 10 games on Bob Hamilton Court in The Pavilion before embarking on a six-game road-trip to close out the calendar year. It’s an almost unheard-of stretch to start the season for UC Davis, which hasn’t opened with this many games at home to open a campaign since the 1990-91 season when the Aggies also opened with eight of their first 10 at home, finishing 8-2 in those games.

STATE OF THE AGGIES: Nearly half of the 2016-17 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 six 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), while two (Kourtney and Karley Eaton) hail from the state of Washington.

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 during the 1999 campaign. Taking it one step further, both the Eaton’s and Hanft’s are identical twins.

BY THE NUMBERS: Despite the loss of two of its top four scorers from a season ago, UC Davis returns nearly two-thirds of its offense statistically for the 2016-17 season, bringing back 65% (1,416 of 2,191) of its total points, 60 percent (720 of 1,198) of its rebounds, 73 percent (382 of 526) of its assists, 66 percent (520 of 788) of its field goals, 76 percent (153 of 201) of its three-pointers, and 54 percent (223 of 414) of its made free throws. What does it all mean? We don’t know, but numbers are fun.

The Last Meeting
Pacific66
UC Davis53
November 16, 2015
Davis, Calif.
Gianotti matches career high in battle with Pacific
UC Davis sophomore Pele Gianotti tied a career high with 11 points, sharing team-high honors with classmate Dani Nafekh on the night, but visiting Pacific used an 10-2 run to start the third quarter, erasing a four-point deficit en route to a 66-53 victory on Monday night at The Pavilion.