Tough Test Awaits in Corvallis as Aggies Look to Rebound

Dec. 19, 2017

UC Davis (9-1, 0-0 Big West) at #17 Oregon State (8-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 | 6:00 p.m. | Gill Coliseum | Corvallis, Ore.
RADIO: KDVS 90.3 FM (PBP: Greg Wong… ANALYST: Max Agress)
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TIP-OFF: The UC Davis women’s basketball team looks to rebound from its first loss of the season this week, making the trip north to Corvallis, Ore., to take on the consensus No. 17 team in the nation in Oregon State at Gill Coliseum. The Aggies and Beavers are scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip off on Wednesday night (Dec. 20), in the second meeting in as many seasons between the two programs.

AGGIES HOLD STEADY MID-MAJOR TOP FIVE: Despite falling from the ranks of the unbeaten, UC Davis held steady at No. 5 in the latest Mid-Major poll released on Tuesday (Dec. 19), marking the second consecutive week that the Aggies have stood among the top five in that poll. UC Davis has been ranked in the top 25 of the College Insider poll every week this season, debuting at No. 20 in the preseason poll and breaking into the top 10 on Nov. 28.

Tracking the Aggies in the poll
Preseason -- No. 20
Nov. 14 -- No. 17
Nov. 21 -- No. 11
Nov. 28 -- No. 8
Dec. 5 -- No. 8
Dec. 12 -- No. 5
Dec. 19 -- No. 5

AGGIES RANKED AMONG TOP 50 IN THE RPI: After debuting at No. 47 in the first RPI rankings released by the NCAA on Dec. 4, the Aggies rode a pair of wins over San Francisco and Saint Mary’s to a five-spot jump on Dec. 9, up to No. 42. UC Davis is the top Big West school in the last available ranking, easily out-distancing Hawai’i (No. 181). It is the highest that the Aggies have been ranked in the RPI dating back to Dec. 29, when UC Davis stood at No. 40 in the nation.

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SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers enter the week with an 8-2 overall record -- including a 5-1 mark at home -- having won their last five straight following a, 74-49, victory over UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 16... Oregon State’s only losses this year have come by single digits against No. 5 Notre Dame (72-67) and No. 16/17 Duke (72-65)... Marie Gulich leads a quartet of Beavers in double figures, posting 15.7 ppg and 8.0 rpg while shooting .663 from the field... Mikayla Pivec (13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, .613 FG%), Kat Tudor (13.2 ppg), and Taylor Kalmer (10.3 ppg), are also in double figures... Oregon State is averaging 84.3 ppg and shooting an NCAA-best .535 from the floor as a team, while surrendering just 53.5 ppg at the other end (tied for No. 9 in the nation).

SERIES NOTES: Oregon State leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 3-0, following last year’s 93-52 victory by OSU on Dec. 14... Including Wednesday’s game, all four meetings between the Beavers and the Aggies will have been played in Corvallis, Ore... The series includes a meeting in the 2012 WNIT, won by Oregon State, 66-48.

VERSUS THE TOP 25: Since 2007-08, UC Davis has played 16 games against teams ranked in one, or both, of the national polls, including the top-ranked team in the nation in three straight seasons: 2012-13 (Stanford), 2013-14 (UConn), and 2014-15 (UConn). The Aggies, however, have yet to post a victory in any of those contests against nationally ranked foes, coming no closer than 12 points vs. No. 22 South Dakota State on Dec. 17, 2008. Earlier this season, UC Davis posted a win over Washington State, which was receiving votes in the preseason Associated Press poll.

CONFERENCE CALL: UC Davis is a combined 23-28 against the current Pacific-12 Conference alignment, having won two of its last three following wins over Utah in the first round of the WNIT last year and Washington State in this year's season opener... The win over the Utes last season snapped a nine-game losing streak against Pac-12 opponents... UC Davis has 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 (2-2).

WE CAN WIN ON THE ROAD TOO: Following their 24-point win at Saint Mary’s on Dec. 9, the Aggies have won their last nine regular season road games dating back to a, 64-62, loss at Long Beach State on Jan. 21 of last season, and 11 of their last 12 overall with only a defeat at Washington State in the WNIT “Sweet 16” to close out the 2016-17 campaign interrupting the streak.

WELL, NOW THAT THAT’S OUT OF THE WAY: If there has been a silver lining to losses in recent seasons, it would be that the UC Davis coaching staff hasn’t allowed the student-athletes to dwell on them too long. The Aggies did not lose back-to-back games during the entire 2016-17 season and have not done so since falling at Hawai’i and against UC Riverside on Feb. 18 and Feb. 20 of 2016.

YOU WON’T LIKE US WHEN WE’RE ANGRY: Opponents beware. Since they last lost back-to-back games, the Aggies have followed up each of their last 11 losses with huge wins, winning by double digits eight times, averaging 77.9 ppg to the opposition’s 61.5 ppg in the ensuing victories, and outscoring opponents by a total of 857-677.

MOVIN’ ON UP: Thanks to her 14 points on Sunday against UCF, junior forward Morgan Bertsch held steady at No. 10 on the all-time list, entering Wednesday’s game in Corvallis with 1,179 points to her name. The biomedical engineering major from Santa Rosa, Calif., needs just 64 more points to match UC Davis Head Coach Jennifer Gross (1,243 career points) for No. 9 on the list, with Aimee Connor (1989-93) and Ellen Porshneva (2003-06, 2007-08) just a combined 18 points beyond that for No. 7 all time.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DAMAGE: After tying the school’s Division I single-season record with 29 games with 10-or-more points, Bertsch is back at it again with 10 such performances in the Aggies’ first 10 games -- giving her 60 for her career and solidifying her hold on fourth place on the school’s Division I career list. Teammates Pele Gianotti (47) and Rachel Nagel (35) also rank sixth and ninth, respectively, on that same career list, chasing record-holder Sydnee Fipps, who collected 80 career games with double digits in the scoring column from 2011-15.

I’LL TAKE BERTSCH FOR 20 PLEASE, ALEX: Although her streak came to an end at six on Dec. 6 against San Francisco, Bertsch has posted seven 20-point performances in 10 games this season and has 26 for her career -- well within striking distance of Sydnee Fipps’ all-time record of 32 from 2011-15. Bertsch’s six straight 20-point games this season are also a program Division I record, surpassing Fipps’ five straight from Dec. 15 to Jan. 2 during 2013-14.

CENTURY MARK: Already the fifth Aggie to reach the century mark in career blocks at Seattle on Nov. 26, Bertsch swatted another three shots against UCF on Sunday, giving her 108 for her career and placing her just one back of Janae Henning (1998-02) on the all-time list. Bertsch, who set the school single-season record with 57 swats as a sophomore last season, is within striking distance of career record holder Paige Mintun (2006-11) and her 150 blocks.

SWAT TEAM: Just one year after setting the school’s single-season record with 129 blocks as a team, the Aggies have seemingly picked up right where they left off, ranking second in the Big West Conference entering the week at 4.7 bpg, while collecting at least four blocks in a contest for the seventh time in 10 games on Sunday against UCF. UC Davis is already more than a third of the way to last year’s total with 47 swats thus far this season, paced by Bertsch’s 15 and 11 more from senior design major Marly Anderson.

BESSOLO GOES BIG AT BOTH ENDS: Sophomore communication major Nina Bessolo did a little bit of everything in Sunday’s joust with UCF, finishing with 11 points, two rebounds, and two assists, to go with a career-high tying three steals to help the Aggies’ defense spark a second-half rally. It was her second double-digit performance of the year, trailing only her season-high 13 points  at Southern Utah on Nov. 24.

OH, SAY CAN YOU CIERRA?: Freshman cell biology major Cierra Hall was a bother on the boards Sunday against UCF, setting a new career best with nine rebounds -- six of those on the offensive glass. The Cypress, Calif., native added eight points and a blocked shot in 24 minutes off the bench, helping the Aggies to a, 27-5, advantage in bench scoring against the Knights.

THE GIANOTTI 500: Entering the week just 64 points shy of becoming the 19th player (and second this season) to reach 1,000 for her career, senior political science major Pele Gianotti is quickly approaching another milestone, needing just 25 more rebounds to become only the fifth player in the program’s Division I history to reach 500 for a career. Following her second nine-rebound performance in her last three games on Sunday against UCF, Gianotti could become only the fourth player in the program’s Division I history to hit 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds, joining Alyson Doherty (2012-16), Paige Mintun (2007-11), and Sydnee Fipps (2011-15).

‘TIS THE SEASON OF GIVING: UC Davis has been the queens of making the extra pass this season, entering the week ranks No. 11 in the nation in assists per game (20.0 apg) and No. 15 in overall assists (200), while ranking No. 20 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.34). Meanwhile, Kourtney Eaton enters the week ranked No. 27 in assists per game (6.0), No. 29 in total assists (60), and No. 60 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4).

MAKING GOOD ON THOSE PASSES: A good number of those assists this season have been thanks to the reliable hands of Bertsch, who enters the week ranked No. 7 in the NCAA in made baskets with 95, trailing only Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife (118), Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (111), Iowa’s Megan Gustafson (109), Florida State’s Shakayla Thomas (101), Seattle’s Alexis Montgomery (100), and South Carolina’s A’Ja Wilson (99). The junior from Santa Rosa, Calif., also ranks among the top 30 in the nation in points (No. 30), points per game (No. 15), and field goal percentage (No. 25).

THREEE-CO-LA!: The Aggies enter the week ranked No. 17 in the NCAA in three-pointers per game (9.4), No. 4 in three-point percentage (.422), and No. 22 in total three’s made (94). Individually, senior psychology major Rachel Nagel is among the top 25, leading the Big West and entering the week ranked No. 17 in the nation, shooting just under 49 percent from beyond the arc.

300: In bowling, it’s a perfect game. In Aggie women’s basketball history, it’s a milestone that few have achieved. With their performances on Dec. 6 against San Francisco, both Kourtney Eaton and senior Dani Nafekh joined a group of seven other UC Davis greats with 300 career assists -- the most recent of whom was Jackie Turpin, who finished with 344 from 2002-06. Eaton, a psychology major, ranks eighth on the Aggies’ all-time list with 315 career helpers, while Nafekh, a managerial economics major, is close behind in ninth with 307 -- both chasing Head Coach Jennifer Gross (448), who holds the all-time record.

AND SCORING IS HALF THE BATTLE: Sunday against UCF marked the first time this season that UC Davis had trailed at halftime, nearly coming all the way back to erase a 21-point deficit in a seven-point defeat. While winning the war is the most important goal, the Aggies, however, have done well to win most of the little battles in their 10 games. UC Davis has outscored its opponent in 33 of the 40 quarters, losing only the fourth periods against Washington State (26-19) and Pepperdine (22-18), the third quarters against Sacramento State (25-23) and San Francisco (16-15), and the first two quarters against the Knights. The Aggies and Portland State also played to a tie in the fourth quarter (22-22) of their game on Nov. 17.

DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP): UCF became only the third team this season to shoot better than 40 percent from the field against the Aggies (joining Washington State and Portland State), snapping a streak of six straight games where the UC Davis defense held the opposition to 38 percent or lower. The Aggies enter the week continuing to lead the Big West in scoring defense (61.6 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.355) -- the latter ranking No. 39 in the nation -- while standing third three-point percentage defense (.307).

WIN-VEMBER: With its win over Sacramento State on Nov. 30, the Aggies completed an unbeaten month of November (7-0) -- only the fourth unbeaten month in the program’s Division I history and its best unbeaten month since they finished 7-0 in February of 2008.

IN THE MARGINS: The seven-point margin of victory against the Hornets on Nov. 30 was the Aggies’ second smallest, trailing only the five-point win over Pepperdine on Nov. 12. In the other eight wins, UC Davis has posted an combined average margin of victory of 19.6 ppg -- the largest being a 32-point win at Pacific on Nov. 20.