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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Women’s basketball keeps the good times rollin’

Aggies blowout UC Irvine to extend hot streak

Brendan Ogburn — sports@theaggie.org

The UC Davis women’s basketball team continued its hot streak with a 80-57 blowout victory over visiting UC Irvine on Saturday afternoon at the Pavilion. The Aggies have now won eight of their last nine games, including three out of four in Big West play.

“I’m really proud of our team’s effort, preparation and focus, most notably on the defensive end,” said UC Davis Head Coach Jennifer Gross. “Our goal for the week was to really bring a lot of urgency on every single possession, and we really tried to do that for the most part.”

Senior forward Morgan Bertsch, the all-time leading scorer in UC Davis history, led the way she’s done so many times in her career. She scored 29 points, including a perfect 11-11 mark from the free throw line, and had a significant impact on the game even when she wasn’t putting the ball in the net. Her mere presence on the offensive end of the court, especially around the basket, demands a large amount of attention from opposing defenses, which opened up quality opportunities for teammates to take shots from the outside.

“Morgan takes a lot of attention inside, so if we can move the ball like we did today, we can get good shots,” Gross said.

UC Davis did just that, lighting it up to the tune of 52.9 percent shooting from the field.

Senior guard Kourtney Eaton was a beneficiary of that plan of attack, as she tallied eight points in the first 12 minutes to go along with seven total assists.

Junior forward Nina Bessolo also made her presence known, firing four three-pointers in her first 15 minutes of action off the bench.

“I just feel super energized and hyped and even more confident, which boosts my game,” Bessolo said.

The Aggies relied on their three-point shooting, where they converted 10 of 23 attempts, to jump out to an early lead and distance themselves from the Anteaters. UC Davis did not trail for a single second on Saturday and led by as many as 30 points at one point in the fourth quarter.

The Aggies started to kick it into high gear on both ends of the hardwood in the second quarter. They held UC Irvine without a field goal for a five minute stretch and used an 18-5 run to close out the first half, taking a 43-23 advantage into the locker room.

“We’ve been talking a lot about stop-score-stop,” Gross said. “How many of those can we put together? If you do that, you’re going to jump out to a big lead.”

The story remained the same in the second half and the Aggies stayed in cruise control for the final 20 minutes of play. Bertsch continued to dominate and added another 15 points, before leaving to a standing ovation midway through the fourth quarter.

She etched herself into the Big West history books versus UC Riverside in early January, becoming just the eighth player in conference history to surpass 2,000 career points.

UC Davis has 12 more conference games on the docket before the Big West tournament arrives in mid-March. A first place finish in that competition would send the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.

Written by: Brendan Ogburn — sports@theaggie.org


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