UC Davis women’s basketball head coach awarded Coach of the Year

CAT TAYLOR / AGGIE FILE

Jennifer Gross named Big West Conference Coach of the Year, four Aggies honored

It was a tremendous regular season for the UC Davis women’s basketball team, which finished with a conference record of 14-2, overall record of 23-6 and a home record of 12-2. The team’s 23 overall wins for the season are the second highest in their Division I program’s history. UC Davis also earned the title of Big West Champions after defeating CSUN in its last regular season game.

This is the sixth time that the Aggies have earned a regular season title in the program’s history, and sixth-year head coach Jennifer Gross was named Big West Conference Coach of the Year.

This is the first time that Gross was named Coach of the Year since taking over the head coaching position for the program in the 2011-12 season. During the regular season this year, the Aggies’ win against UC Riverside on March 2 was the 100th win for Gross as head coach of the program.

Additionally, four student-athletes received honors that were voted on by the league’s head coaches. Sophomore forward Morgan Bertsch and junior forward Pele Gianotti were named to the All-Big West first team, the first time that there have been two Aggies on the first team since the 2011-12 season. With these two awards, UC Davis is the only women’s basketball program to have at least one first-team honoree since the program became a part of the Big West Conference in 2007-08.

This was the first time that Bertsch has earned first-team honors, after receiving second-team honors last season as a freshman. She led the Aggies this season by scoring 16.5 points per game, averaging 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Bertsch also had eight games with 20 points or more this season.

As sophomore last season, Gianotti received honorable mention selection, but really showed spectators what she was capable of after an incredible junior year, averaging 11.3 points per game and leading the team with 5.9 rebounds per game. On top of this, she averaged 2.4 assists per game and helped the Aggies achieve an 82 percent free throw shooting percentage, only missing 11 times all year.

Junior guard Dani Nafekh received second-team honors and first-year forward Nina Bessolo was named to the All-Freshman team. Bessolo’s award was the third straight year and and the seventh time overall that the Aggies have had one of the league’s top freshman.

To go along with her second-team honors, Nafekh was also named UC Davis’ Big West Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, and her second-team honor was her first career all-conference honor. She finished the regular season with 11.6 points per game, 2.93 assists per game, ranking among the league leaders in both of these categories. She is currently ranked in the top 10 for UC Davis women’s basketball all-time career assists.

Bessolo averaged 4.6 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game, appearing in 28 of the team’s 29 games off the bench. She also finished with double-digit stats four times in the regular season.

The UC Davis women’s basketball team hoped to continue its season’s success with the Big West Conference Tournament last Friday, March 10, in Anaheim, Calif. The Aggies’ first-place finish in the regular season allowed them to advance straight to the semifinals, as they were the first seed. Unfortunately, the team lost to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 73-59, ending their hopes of being Big West Conference Tournament champions.
Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org