Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS - By Ja­son Kaneshiro jkaneshiro@starad­ver­tiser.com

UC Davis backed up its billing as the most ef­fi­cient of­fense in the Big West while ex­tend­ing both its win­ning streak and Hawaii’s Fe­bru­ary frus­tra­tions with a 69-50 win on Thurs­day at the Stan Sher­iff Cen­ter.

The Ag­gies, the Big West lead­ers in scor­ing and shoot­ing per­cent­age, shot a stag­ger­ing 62 per­cent in the first half, fin­ished at 53 per­cent for the game and took con­trol with a 17-0 run bridg­ing half­time while win­ning their sixth straight to re­main alone atop the con­fer­ence stand­ings.

UC Davis for­ward Mor­gan Bertsch scored 24 points, guard Pele Gian­otti added 20 points and 10 re­bounds and the Ag­gies (19-6, 10-2 Big West) picked up the pro­gram’s first Big West win in Honolulu while send­ing UH (8-16, 4-8) to its fifth straight loss be­fore a crowd of 581. “Just kind of an­other night of the same stuff,” UH coach Laura Bee­man said. “Not be­ing able to get de­fen­sive stops when we need to, def­i­nitely not be­ing able to con­tain their post play and then putting so much pres­sure on our de­fense be­cause we’re not scor­ing the ball. … It kind of snow­balls.”

UH guard Court­ney Mid­dap scored all 13 of her points in the se­cond half in her most ex­ten­sive play­ing time of a fresh­man sea­son ham­pered by a knee in­jury suf­fered in pre­sea­son prac­tice. Mid­dap went 5-for-9 from the field and hit two 3-point­ers, the se­cond com­ing early in the fourth quar­ter as UH chopped a 24-point deficit to 12.

But UC Davis went in­side to Bertsch to trig­ger a 7-0 run and the Ag­gies re­mained firmly in con­trol. The Ag­gies outscored UH 44-18 in the paint and won the re­bound­ing bat­tle 34-29. “We’re def­i­nitely at our best when we’re play­ing in­side-out and shar­ing the ball,” UC Davis coach Jen­nifer Gross said. “I thought we did a nice job mov­ing the ball, get­ting dif­fer­ent peo­ple touches and then at the end of a pos­ses­sion if we didn’t have a great shot we were go­ing in­side and Mor­gan, of course, did a nice job of fin­ish­ing.”

Bertsch, the Big West’s se­cond-lead­ing scorer en­ter­ing the game, went 11-for-19 from the field and matched her scor­ing to­tal in UC Davis’ 70-55 win over UH on Jan. 7.

Bertsch ac­counted for half of UCD’s scor­ing while the Ag­gies took a 14-9 lead after the first quar­ter. UC Davis then went 10-for-15 from the field in the se­cond quar­ter to stretch the lead to 3620 at the break.

UH for­ward Lahni Salanoa hit three 3-point­ers in the first half and UH closed to 27-20 in the se­cond quar­ter. But UC Davis closed the half on a 9-0 run, then scored the first eight points of the third quar­ter to open up a 44-20 cush­ion.

Mid­dap had scored five points this sea­son be­fore find­ing her rhythm off the bench in the third quar­ter. “(The in­jury has) been pretty frus­trat­ing, but with the help of the team and the coach­ing staff I’ve been able to stay with it and keep go­ing through it and it re­ally helped me the way I played tonight,” she said. Guard Sarah Toeaina fin­ished with 12 points, nine in the se­cond half, and UH shot 35 per­cent as a team. Bee­man also praised the play of fresh­man Julissa Tago, who had a sea­son-high six as­sists and seven re­bounds. UH con­cludes its fourgame home­s­tand against Cal State Northridge (14-11, 7-4) on Satur­day. The Mata­dors also won their sixth straight, an 85-77 vic­tory over UC Irvine on Thurs­day.

UC Davis got some help in the Big West race with Cal Poly’s up­set of se­cond-place Long Beach State. UH is alone in sev­enth place, two games be­hind Cal Poly for sixth with four games to play.

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