Jan. 17, 2013
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - A three from senior guard Paolo Mancasola with 23 seconds remaining in Thursday's Big West Conference game at The Matadome in Northridge, Calif., turned a two-point UC Davis lead into a more comfortable five-point cushion en route to a 74-71 Aggie victory over the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
The win is UC Davis' first in Northridge since Nov. 22, 1986, when both teams competed at the Division II level as members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Led by Mancasola who scored a career-high 18 points, four UC Davis (6-10, 2-3 BWC) players posted double-digit totals against the Matadors (9-9, 0-6 BWC). Sophomore guard Corey Hawkins finished with 17 points, junior guard Ryan Sypkens and sophomore forward J.T. Adenrele ended with 13 points each.
"After I received the ball from Corey, I wanted to make that shot because I was so wide open," said Mancasola regarding his clutch three-point shot in the waning moments of the game. "We were resilient tonight, and found a way to win."
Adenrele led all Aggies with nine rebounds, falling one board shy of recording his third double-double of the year.
Said Mancasola: "J.T. came up huge for us in the first half when we were struggling. He fought for rebounds, and made it tough for them (Northridge) to score once we started our comeback."
After the senior guard drained his shot from three, Cal State Northridge called a timeout to design a set play in an attempt to score as quickly as possible. A jumper from three by Cal State Northridge guard Josh Greene was the result of that timeout, a shot that was blocked by Sypkens as soon as it was released.
Once Sypkens corralled the loose ball, the Aggies called a quick timeout of their own to ensure that everyone knew what to do throughout the final 3.7 seconds of the game. Once the ball was inbounded, the final seconds disappeared from the clock to cement a three-point win for UC Davis.
"We made plays down the stretch; Mancasola's three and Sypkens' block was huge. I thought a number of guys made some key plays throughout the night, J.T. came up with some huge offensive rebounds for us early in the game when we were struggling," said head coach Jim Les.
Early in the first half, Northridge possessed an 11-point lead, its largest of the game, before the Aggies roared back to take a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
Trailing by 11 with 11:57 left in the first half, UC Davis asserted itself on defense and allowed the Matadors to score only four more points until the break. Throughout that same timespan, the Aggies scored 18 points, stealing any momentum originally created by the Matadors.
Once action resumed, eight lead changes took place throughout final 20 minutes. Midway through the second half, UC Davis scored on consecutive three-point shots from Sypkens, junior forward/guard Josh Ritchart, Mancasola and junior guard Tyler Les to take control of the game, and the lead for good.
Even though the Matadors were able to trim UC Davis' lead to two points on three occasions throughout the final four-plus minutes of action, the Aggies responded by making their free throws, forcing turnovers and sinking shots at key moments of the game.
"This team is learning how to make plays late in the game when your concentration, energy and playmaking abilities are needed the most," said Les. "When we asked our guys during a late timeout who was going to make the next play, who was going to get the next rebound, who was going to take a charge, lo and behold all five guys were ready to make the next play.
"When you have all five guys committed to each other, good things are going to happen."
UC Davis shot 27-for-53 (50.9 pct.) from the floor, 9-for-24 (37.5 pct.) from three and was 11-for 16 (68.8 pct.) from the line. Northridge shot 25-for-65 (38.5 pct.), was 7-for-18 (38.9 pct.) from distance and 14-for-21 (66.7 pct.) from the charity stripe.
"We have played in so many close games, it is frustrating at times when you are just there and it does not go your way. We feel that we are a better team than our record indicates," said Mancasola.
UC Davis will end its road trip on Saturday, Jan. 19, in a 9 p.m. (PT) Big West matchup at Hawai'i.