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DAVIS, Calif. - Cal Poly held a one-point lead in the first minute of Saturday’s Big West Conference game at the Pavilion, but once senior communications major Chima Moneke scored the first of his game-high 21 points less than 20 seconds later, that marked the last time the Mustangs held an advantage and the start of a game-changing 20 minutes of play for the Aggies.
When UC Davis entered the locker room at halftime, it scored 46 points, the most during an opening half of any game this season, shot .621 overall (18-29) and held a 24-point lead. Once action resumed, the Aggies’ reserves continued to play lights-out on both ends of the court, and extended their team’s lead to as many as 36 before late Mustang baskets turned that cushion into an 80-56 final score — the 19th-straight home victory for UC Davis.
“We were talking before the game that we are getting everyone’s best shot ... now it’s time for us to give everyone our best shot and let the chips fall where they may,” said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
“I though our defensive activity and pressure, from the get-go, disrupted things for Cal Poly. And when the defense is that active creating turnovers and forcing missed shots, this group is pretty impactful in the open court where they share the ball and make plays.”
Both of UC Davis’ road games next week will air on ESPN3, starting with its Thursday contest at CSUN. The Aggies will enter the Matadome (looking to sweep this season’s series) with a 14-7 overall and 5-2 Big West record. Cal Poly is now 6-15 and 1-6 respectively.
Midway through the first half, it was UC Davis’ defense that blew the game wide open when it held Cal Poly to only three points for 7:18. While the Mustangs were frustrated on offense — it shot 8-for-28 overall (.286) in the first half — the Aggies enjoyed a 20-3 run of their own, which extended the team’s lead to 18 at that time.
“We started the game strong and did not let up. We made key stops, which led to easy baskets. In my opinion, this is the first complete game we played this season,” said Moneke.
“[Tonight’s game] was a reminder of what we are capable of. More than anything … guys were playing for each other and having fun. With all the alumni attending this game, it reminded everyone to enjoy playing with each other and take nothing for granted,” he added.
Of the 3,111 fans in attendance, a sizable portion of that crowd was comprised of UC Davis basketball alums, family members and friends who returned to the Pavilion to celebrate the program's Alumni Day.
Led by Moneke’s game-high 21 points, on 9 of 11 shooting throughout his 20 minutes on the court, and game-high six rebounds, all 10 Aggies who played scored and recorded a rebound.
Junior psychology major AJ John scored 11 points, on 4 of 6 shooting, and finished with six boards; junior communication major Siler Schneider posted 11 points and four rebounds during his 19 minutes on the floor; sophomore economics major Joe Mooney hit three shots from three, and another at the line to end his evening with 10 points.
UC Davis’ defense also did a phenomenal job preventing the Mustangs from earning free throw attempts of their own. The Big West’s No. 1 team at the charity stripe only earned nine attempts, its second-lowest total of the year. The Aggies also protected the ball well and committed only nine turnovers compared to Cal Poly’s 12, which led to 18 UC Davis points.
In addition to owning the glass, UC Davis dominated play in the paint, where it scored 38 of its 80 points. By comparison, Cal Poly only recorded 12. The Aggies also made the most of its 11 offensive rebounds by recording 18 second-chance points vs. five for CP.
With John and Mooney clicking on offense, the Aggies’ reserves scored twice as many points as their counterparts, and dominated this facet of the game by a 33-16 margin. Senior American Studies major Arell Hennings also enjoyed a strong performance off the bench by scoring seven points and earned a game-high four of his team’s 13 assists.
“Our bench play was huge. Those guys work their tail off every day, and we have a lot of confidence in them. We are going to need our bench down the stretch … and those guys coming in, and playing with confidence, and contributing is going to be huge,” said Les.
“We know we have something special taking place inside this building,” said Moneke regarding his team’s home winning streak, the third-longest in the nation, “and now it’s up to us to take that on the road next week.”
In addition to Thursday’s 7 p.m. game at CSUN, ESPN3 will air Saturday’s 4 p.m. matchup at Long Beach State.
UC DAVIS 80, CAL POLY 56
CAL POLY (6-15, 1-6 BWC)
Fields, Donovan 5-11 0-0 13; Meikle, Luke 4-9 0-0 10; Joseph, Victor 2-6 2-2 6; Niziol, Jakub 1-4 4-4 6; John, Trevor 2-3 0-0 6; Garrick, Marcellus 2-3 0-0 5; Martin, Josh 2-7 0-0 5; Crowe, Mark 1-1 0-0 3; James, Iziah 0-3 2-2 2; Abrams, Aleks 0-1 0-0 0; Hollingsworth, Hank 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 19-49 8-9 56.
UC DAVIS (14-7, 5-2 BWC)
Moneke, Chima 9-11 2-3 21; John, AJ 4-6 0-0 11; Schneider, Siler 4-8 1-2 11; Mooney, Joe 3-9 1-2 10; Shorts II, TJ 4-10 0-0 8; Hennings, Arell 2-5 2-2 7; Goode, Garrison 2-2 1-1 5; Russell, Colin 1-1 1-3 3; Printup, Rogers 1-3 0-0 2; Onyebalu, Michael 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 30-56 10-15 80.
Cal Poly...................... 22 34 - 56
UC Davis...................... 46 34 - 80
3-point goals--Cal Poly 10-21 (Fields, Donovan 3-4; Meikle, Luke 2-2; John, Trevor 2-3; Crowe, Mark 1-1; Garrick, Marcellus 1-2; Martin, Josh 1-2; James, Iziah 0-2; Niziol, Jakub 0-3; Joseph, Victor 0-2), UC Davis 10-18 (John, AJ 3-4; Mooney, Joe 3-6; Schneider, Siler 2-2; Hennings, Arell 1-3; Moneke, Chima 1-1; Onyebalu, Michael 0-1; Shorts II, TJ 0-1). Fouled out--Cal Poly-None, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--Cal Poly 21 (Martin, Josh 5), UC Davis 38 (Moneke, Chima 6; John, AJ 6). Assists--Cal Poly 9 (Martin, Josh 3), UC Davis 13 (Hennings, Arell 4). Total fouls--Cal Poly 20, UC Davis 14. Technical fouls--Cal Poly-None, UC Davis-None. A-3111
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ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley.
The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal, offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.