Unbeaten Aggies host Montana State to tip off homestand

Nov. 22, 2016

GAME 4: Montana State (1-2) at UC Davis (3-0)
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016
7:00 p.m.
The Pavilion (5,931)
Davis, Calif.
TV: None
Game Coverage: UC Davis Gameday Central | UC Davis Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Montana State Women's Basketball

TIP-OFF: The lone remaining unbeaten in the Big West Conference -- and one of 64 remaining in the nation -- the UC Davis women's basketball team returns to The Pavilion to open a three-game homestand on Wednesday night (Nov. 23), welcoming Montana State to Northern California for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

IN THE POLLS: UC Davis is unranked to begin the season; However, the Aggies are scheduled to meet a pair of schools that are currently ranked in the top 25: Stanford stands at No. 11 both national polls, while Oregon State is ranked No. 22 and No. 15 in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, respectively.

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 BOBCATS: Montana State enters the week with a 1-2 overall record following losses at Utah (74-64) and Utah State (64-56), before posting a, 75-42, win over the NAIA's University of Great Falls... Senior guard Peyton Ferris leads the Bobcats in both scoring (13.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg), including a season-high 18 points against the Utes, while freshman Oliana Squires joins her in double figures at 10.7 ppg off the bench... Former WNBA standout Tricia Binford is in her 11th season as head coach of the program, leading Montana State to a Big Sky Conference regular season title and WNIT berth last season.

SERIES NOTES: Wednesday's game marks the first-ever meeting between the two progams in women's basketball, and only the fifth member of the current Big Sky Conference alignment that the Aggies have faced overall... UC Davis is a combined 34-38 against Big Sky Conference foes, having won three of their last four against league members, including a 1-1 mark last season with a win at Portland State and a loss to Causeway rival Sacramento State... UC Davis Head Coach Jennifer Gross is 4-4 against Big Sky schools in her tenure... Overall, the Aggies are 1-0 against Northern Arizona, 4-9 against Portland State, 26-29 against Sacramento State, and 3-0 against Southern Utah.

THREE AND OH-MY!: With their win in their road opener on Monday night at Pacific, the Aggies improved to 3-0 overall on the year -- their longest unbeaten start to a season since the 2011-12 squad opened with five straight victories that season with triumphs over Washington, Seattle, San Jose State, Wichita State, and San Francisco.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: For the second consecutive contest, UC Davis had five players finish in double figures, and the Aggies have had no fewer than four finish with 10-or-more points in every game this season. UC Davis has won its last 11 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.

NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH: However, there are such things as free points if you're lucky enough to get to the free throw line, which the Aggies did with regularity Monday night. UC Davis finished off the win over the Tigers thanks, in some part, to a 25-for-30 shooting performance from the line -- the most makes from the stripe for and Aggie squad since they sank the same number (in 28 attempts) at CSUN on Feb. 6, 2014. Sophomore Morgan Bertsch tied a career high with seven makes from the line, while sophomore Kourtney Eaton and junior Dani Nafekh were each a perfect 6-for-6 -- setting and tying a career-high, respectively.

MAKING THEIR POINT: For the second straight game, the high-octane Aggie offense topped the 90-point plateau in their 95-87 win at Pacific on Monday -- the most that UC Davis has scored in a game since handing San Jose State a 95-61 defeat back on Nov. 26, 2013. Coupled with their 91 points in a win over Holy Names on Nov. 13, the Aggies scored at least 90 points in back-to-back games for the first time in the program's Division I history and the first since doing so at Cal Poly Pomona (L, 109-92) on Jan. 3, 2004 and against Stanislaus State (W, 95-72) on Jan. 9, 2004.

POINT TAKEN: More on Monday night's point total... The 95 points in Stockton marked the first time the Aggies have scored at least 90 points away from home since a 91-72 win at UC Irvine on Jan. 29, 2011, and the most since putting up 102 points in a 40-point win at San Jose State earlier that season on Dec. 21.

HERE'S A QUARTER: The Aggies' 30-point fourth quarter on Monday night at Pacific is tied for the most points in a single quarter since the NCAA switched to four, 10-minute periods in women's basketball last season, matching UC Davis' 30-point first quarter against Sacramento State on Dec. 13, 2015.

THREE-FOR-THREE: With their performances on Monday night, juniors Pele Gianotti and Dani Nafekh, along with sophomore Morgan Bertsch, are the only three Aggies to open the season with double-digit point totals in the team's first three games.

MORGAN GETS HER GROOVE BACK: A team-high 21 points (her 11th career 20-point scoring performance) and six rebounds by sophomore Morgan Bertsch helped lead the Aggies to a come-from-behind win at Pacific on Monday night, setting a new season high for points, rebounds, and assists (three), while tying her best in field goals made (seven). The Santa Rosa, Calif., native is a combined 16-for-25 (.640) from the floor this season -- ranking No. 27 in the NATION through three games after finishing last year ranked No. 7 in the NCAA with a .582 field goal percentage.

MORE FOR MORGAN: Dating back to last season, Bertsch has reached double figures in each of her last 11 games, averaging 17.9 ppg and shooting just under 64 percent (74-for-116) from the floor during that stretch.

SHARING IS CARING: As the holiday season is upon us, it's only right that the Aggies are thinking of others before themselves, entering Wednesday's contest against Montana State with three players ranked among the top 10 in the Big West Conference in assists: Dani Nafekh is second at 5.7 apg (No. 43 in the NATION), Kourtney Eaton is sixth at 3.3 apg, and Pele Gianotti is tied for eighth at 3.0 apg. Overall, as a team, UC Davis leads the Big West at 17.7 apg, while also standing tops in the league with a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

AWW, SHOOT!: The Aggies shot .544 from the floor at Pacific on Monday night, narrowly missing out on their season high (.548 vs. Holy Names), but helping UC Davis jump to No. 7 in the NATION in field goal percentage at .497 on the year.

THREEEEE-CO-LA!: A big part of the Aggies' success this season has been the team's accuracy from beyond the three-point arc, shooting just north of 40 percent for the year to stand second in the Big West and No. 27 in the NATION. Led by junior Dani Nafekh (3rd), junior Pele Gianotti (6th), and freshman Nina Bessolo (8th), UC Davis also leads the Big West and ranks No. 23 in the NCAA at 9.0 three-pointers per game.

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 has picked up right where she left off through the first three games this season, recording 17 assists and averaging 5.7 apg. The total gives her 213 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 61 shy of Jessica Campbell (2003-06, 2007-08) for 10th on the all-time list.

#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.

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.