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Friday, September 24, 2021

Women’s basketball defeats UCSB in final home game

MEENA RUGH / AGGIE

UC Davis women’s basketball team defeats UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 70-61, remains at first in Big West Conference

It was the UC Davis women’s basketball team’s final home game last Saturday at the Pavilion as the Aggies prepared to face the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. Coming into the matchup, the Gauchos had lost their last two games on the road and sat in fifth place in the Big West Conference. It was before the game, however, that the Aggies showed their closeness as a team as they paid tribute to their lone senior forward, Lauren Beyer, in a Senior Night ceremony.

“She has been so special for our program,” said head coach Jennifer Gross. “She’s the most selfless kid I have ever coached and she is a special young woman who is going to be very successful in life.”

After the ceremony, the game commenced, and would determine if UC Davis remained alone in the first-place position in the Big West.

Going on an 8-0 run in the first quarter, the Aggies were able to close a small deficit early on. Continuing their runs into the second quarter, a 10-2 run gave the Aggies the largest lead of the game at 28-15, with 5:19 left to play until the half. By the time that the half rolled around for UC Davis, they were leading 39-27.

MEENA RUGH / AGGIE

In the third quarter, the Aggie defense was the big factor, as the Gauchos only scored eight points in the period, limiting their shots to just three of 16. The UC Davis offense took off, as a three-pointer by sophomore guard Kourtney Eaton gave the Aggies a 17-point lead at the end of the third, bringing the score to 52-35. UC Davis scored 10 of their last 12 points in the third quarter with only 4:57 left.

The Gauchos outscored the Aggies 26-18 in the fourth quarter, but the 17 point deficit at the end of the third was too much for UC Santa Barbara to make up. The Aggies’ lead was never less than seven points in the fourth, and they won 70-61.

“It was a big win for us,” Gross said. “Santa Barbara has a lot of different weapons and they pressure the ball. I thought to start the game we were very focused defensively and I feel the stops we got won us the game.”

Overall, UC Davis shot 49 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line, going 10-20 on the night. After scoring 25 points earlier in the week, junior forward Pele Gianotti scored 19 points, nine of which came from three-pointers and four rebounds. Sophomore forward Morgan Bertsch finished the game with 15 points, four assists and a game-high seven rebounds.

“I think that we have been putting up the reps in practice,” Gianotti said. “Everyone has been really confident coming off of these wins and we all know that we are great shooters. The whole team worked together and that’s what gave us the confidence to win.”

Junior guard Dani Nafekh made her mark in the record books on Saturday, after three assists in the game gave her 277 career assists, placing her at number 10 on the UC Davis all-time career assist leaders.

“It was awesome,” Nafekh said. “I love being a part of this team and I love the way we play. It is a great testament to how great everyone is to help each other out, make shots when we need to make shots […] I just love it.”

This win marked the eighth win in a row for the UC Davis women’s basketball team, the best winning streak since the start of Division I play for the Aggies. Their current home record of 12-3 is also a tie for the best home record during the D1 era, after the 2010-2011 team finished its season with the same record. The Aggies’ overall record sits at 21-6, and this game marked the third out of the last five seasons that the UC Davis women’s basketball team has had at least 100 blocks in a season, showing its strong defensive ability

“I think we are a versatile group,” Gross said. “When we need to rely on our defense to win we can do that and the same for our offense. I didn’t know that about our team before this year. They work so hard and to know exactly what you are gonna get on game day is awesome.”

UC Davis has two more games left in conference play, one at UC Riverside on March 2 and the other at CSUN on March 4.

“We are going down and playing two really quality teams but right now we are focused on Riverside,” Gross said. “If we come out and play with great intensity and urgency, we have a good chance to win the game.”

 

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org

 

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