RIVERSIDE, Calif. - UC Davis opened Thursday night's Big West game from the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif., by scoring seven of the game's first nine points, ended the first half by posting 12 of the final 17 before the break, and saw Avery Johnson hit back-to-back threes to pull away and record a 74-61 win over UC Riverside.
With its wire-to-wire victory, UC Davis improves to 13-3 overall and now holds its first-ever 3-0 Big West record in school history. UC Riverside falls to 8-9 and 1-2 respectively with Thursday's result.
The Aggies will also enter its next game, at Cal State Fullerton, as the only undefeated team in the Big West Conference.
"I told this team at halftime that our halftime lead was no indication of the way things would happen in the second half. We knew that (UC Riverside) would make a run," said head coach Jim Les.
As was the case with the first half, UC Davis also started the second strong by scoring five straight to post its biggest lead of the evening, at that time, of 17 points.
Led by Jalen Brand who 25 of his team-high 29 points in the second half, primarily behind a barrage of threes, UC Riverside pulled within five of UC Davis, with 9:21 remaining.
Capped by consecutive threes by Johnson, that five-point UC Davis lead turned into an 18-point advantage thanks to a 20-7 scoring run to build an intimidating 18-point cushion with just over two minutes left in the contest.
"We were able to answer Riverside's run, starting with the way we played on defense. We protected the basketball, created good shots and executed well.
"Brand was hot, but I could not blame the way we executed on defense because he hit some tough ones with our guys right in his face," added Les.
Corey Hawkins, who entered with a league-high 20.2 points per game average, led all Aggies with 26 points. In addition to his three treys, Johnson grabbed a game-high six rebounds.
The Aggies' trio of J.T. Adenrele, Neal Monson and Josh Fox neutralized the scoring prowess of Taylor Johns, the Highlanders' top scorer, from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Johns averaged a team-high 17.1 ppg before facing a UC Davis defense that held him to six points and five rebounds - his second-lowest scoring and lowest rebounding total of the season.
"I did point out to those guys that their defense was the difference in the game. He was frustrated all night long and cound not find his shots," said Les.
Returning to Riverside for the first time in a UC Davis uniform, Fox finished with five points and five boards. The junior forward spent his freshman year at UCR before transferring to City College of San Francisco before the start of his sophomore season.
The Aggies made 22 of 46 shots overall (.478), including 10 of 17 from three (.588) and 20 of 27 from the line (.741). Conversely, UC Riverside was help to 19 of 50 shooting overall (.380), 9 of 25 from three (.360) and finished 14 of 19 from the stripe.
UC Davis will head to Cal State Fullerton for Saturday's Big West tilt against the Titans, that matchup will start at 6 p.m.
UC DAVIS 74, UC RIVERSIDE 61
UC DAVIS (13-3, 3-0 BWC)
Hawkins, Corey 8-16 7-11 26; Johnson, Avery 3-5 0-0 9; Graham, Darius 2-5 4-4 9; Adenrele, J.T. 1-3 6-6 8; Ritchart, Josh 3-7 0-0 7; Fox, Josh 2-4 1-2 5; Monson, Neal 1-3 2-4 4; Lemar, Brynton 1-1 0-0 3; Les, Tyler 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 22-46 20-27 74.
UC RIVERSIDE (8-9, 1-2 BWC)
Bland, Jaylen 10-16 2-2 29; Thornton, Steven 2-6 6-8 10; Gruninger, Nick 3-6 0-0 7; Johns, Taylor 2-8 2-3 6; Jones, Steven 1-5 2-2 5; Larsson, Alex 1-3 0-2 2; Quick, Austin 0-6 2-2 2; Tang, Chris 0-0 0-0 0; Thiero, Cheick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-50 14-19 61.
UC Davis........................ 33 41 - 74
UC Riverside.................. 21 40 - 61
3-point goals--UC Davis 10-17 (Johnson, Avery 3-4; Hawkins, Corey 3-6; Les, Tyler 1-2; Lemar, Brynton 1-1; Graham, Darius 1-2; Ritchart, Josh 1-2), UC Riverside 9-25 (Bland, Jaylen 7-11; Jones, Steven 1-3; Gruninger, Nick 1-4; Quick, Austin 0-4; Johns, Taylor 0-2; Thornton, Steven 0-1). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, UC Riverside-Thornton, Steven. Rebounds--UC Davis 30 (Johnson, Avery 6), UC Riverside 30 (Larsson, Alex 6). Assists--UC Davis 11 (Graham, Darius 3; Hawkins, Corey 3), UC Riverside 11 (Jones, Steven 4; Johns, Taylor 4). Total fouls--UC Davis 18, UC Riverside 22. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, UC Riverside-Thornton, Steven. A-923
Aggies open season Monday night at Northern Colorado
Gameday Central at Utah Valley
(2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT)