Morgan Bertsch: UC Davis’ Greatest

Morgan Bertsch. (Wayne Tilcock/
Morgan Bertsch. (Wayne Tilcock/ /

With the season over, Morgan Bertsch now turns to pro basketball.

When Morgan Bertsch walked off the basketball court back on Dec 1, after her UC Davis Aggies had just defeated Nevada in non-conference play, she walked off as the Aggies all-time leader in points scored for men and women.

At the conclusion of the regular season, her point total stood at 2,372 career points in four years at UC Davis. She also ended the season as the fifth overall leading scorer in the nation with 23.6 points per game.

And this is all from someone who had only one Division 1 offer out of Santa Rosa High School and didn’t even play AAU basketball. When she first arrived, this was all something she never thought possible. She was just thrilled to be on campus.

“When I got here, I was just really happy to be here. That was definitely my mentality, I just came out here every single day like I love playing basketball and I have the opportunity to play basketball at a Division 1 school,” Bertsch told High Post Hoops. “I think a lot of times that was just my mentality every day at practice, I’m just going to come out and do whatever this team needs me to do.”

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This past season she spent her time cementing her place as the best player in school history while leading UC Davis to a near unbeaten record in Big West Conference play. Their only loss came to Hawaii whom they ended up beating to win the conference tournament championship.

She also grew and expanded her game to become a much more versatile player on the offensive end. That growth and development is something that has really stood out to Aggies head coach Jennifer Gross these past few years.

“To watch the work she puts in every single day, and that’s in practice and after practice, she sets the tone and bar for our team by competing hard, and that makes our team better,” Gross told High Post Hoops. “I think as an individual, we’ve seen her go from someone who was always pretty good by the basket, had a great feel for putting the ball in, to stretching it out to where now she can shoot the mid-range, watching her be so efficient from the three-point line has been really cool too, to see her put that work in.”

Bertsch shot 46.8 from the three-point line, good enough for eighth in the nation. She was also the only primary post player in the top 10 in three-point shooting. It’s that offensive repertoire that’s made her a nightmare for opposing defenses. She’s got an arsenal of moves in the low post, she can put the ball on the floor and take defenders off the dribble, and she steps out and shoots from distance.

It’s also attracted the attention of pro scouts. Playing professional basketball isn’t something that Bertsch always thought was possible. But as this season went on, it became something more of an actual possibility than just a pipe dream.

“I’m definitely going to be going overseas regardless,” Bertsch said. “Obviously the WNBA would be an amazing opportunity, and I would jump at that. I haven’t looked that far ahead, but that’s something I’ll definitely be figuring out.”

The WNBA Draft is right around the corner on April 10, so she’ll find out what her future plans are soon enough. Regardless of what happens, her coach is confident she can bring a lot to the table, not just with her on-court ability, but her ability as a leader.

With her ascent this season as the best player in the Big West, she saw more defensive pressure than ever before. Learning how to deal with that was a good experience for playing at the next level where every player is bigger, stronger, faster, etc.

“I think the way that she’s handled the expectations for this year, that’s not an easy position to be in when every game people are coming at you with doubles and they’re game planning for you and to just consistently find a way to put the ball in the basket,” Gross said. “She’s also done a great job of keeping her teammates involved when that’s the right play. I think just seeing the confidence in the player she’s become and we say it all the time, but it’s not just basketball. She’s a tremendous leader and an amazing person and someone who’s been a really fun person to coach over the last few years.”

The Aggies season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when UC Davis lost to the Stanford Cardinal, a team they had lost to early in the season during non-conference play. Bertsch finished with 25 points in the game but shot only 32 percent from the field and 25 percent from distance.

Regardless, she’s established herself as a player that is worthy of a shot at the next level. Quite the college career for someone who never imagined she’d be in this position four years ago.

Wherever the next step of her journey takes her, she’s forever grateful for her time at UC Davis and will always look back on it with fond memories.

“I could not imagine being anywhere else. It’s really surprising and I just feel so lucky that only having one offer and it being the perfect school, what are the odds of that. I had amazing teammates, my coaches have been awesome, Davis as a school is amazing,” Bertsch said. “There’s just so many things that have made this process amazing and I really wouldn’t have changed any of it. I just feel beyond blessed that the one school that saw the potential in me, was the perfect fit for me. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

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