DAVIS, Calif. - Josh Ritchart nailed six three-pointers, scored a season-high 24 points and led all Aggies with seven rebounds, Corey Hawkins finished with 22 points and UC Davis rallied from a 14-point deficit - its largest of the season - to beat Cal Poly in overtime, 81-78, in a nationally televised Big West Conference men's basketball game played before 5,317 fans at The Pavilion on Saturday night.
The game was broadcast on ESPNU, the second televised game from UC Davis this season.
The Aggies' 10th win at home this season kept them unbeaten on Hamilton Court and improved their overall record to 16-4. They upped their league mark to 6-1, keeping them in a tie with Long Beach State and UC Irvine atop the Big West. UC Davis will visit Irvine for a key conference showdown next Thursday.
Avery Johnson scored 11 points for the Aggies while also hitting a trey with 2:55 left in overtime that put UC Davis in the lead for good, at 72-71.
The tandem of Josh Fox and Neal Monson were responsible for all of UC Davis' 17 bench points; the former scored nine while the latter added eight. Fox and Monson also finished with four and five rebounds respectively.
Brian Bennett hit 11 of 16 shots and scored a game-high 27 points for the Mustangs who fell to 10-10 overall and 3-5 in the league. Malik Love added 15 points, Ridge Shipley had 11 and Joel Awich tallied 10.
"This group is the hunted, other teams are coming in and giving us their best shots," said head coach Jim Les after the game. "We did not play our best basketball in the first half, but had a phenomenal response.
"I really liked our energy and activity on the defensive end, we were coming up with loose balls, made plays and limited some of (Cal Poly's) second-chance opportunities."
After scoring the first six points of the game and then leading 9-6 later, the Aggies trailed for most of the rest of regulation. Ten straight points put Cal Poly up, 16-9, eight minutes into the game, while David Nwaba's jumper with just over two minutes to play before halftime gave the Mustangs a 38-24 advantage, UC Davis' largest deficit of the season.
Cal Poly led 40-30 at halftime after shooting .593 percent from the field while outrebounding the Aggies, 18-9. The Mustang led by 12 points two times early in the second half but a 14-3 UC Davis run - sparked by treys from Hawkins, Johnson and Ritchart - allowed it to climb to within 47-46 with 15:10 left.
The game remained close but the Aggies were unable to tie or take the lead until Ritchart's three-pointer with 55 seconds left in regulation tied the game, 65-65. Cal Poly had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but missed a trey at the buzzer.
Cal Poly led 71-69 in overtime but Johnson was good from downtown to put the Aggies in the lead for the rest of the night with under three minutes to play. UC Davis went 5-for-6 from the line in the final 20 seconds to help keep the Mustangs behind.
UC Davis, the nation's leading three-point shooting team, made 11 of 20 (.550) from beyond the arc and shot 50 percent overall. Hawkins added six assists and three steals. Ritchart was 6 of 8 from three-point territory.
"Josh is a tough cover, he can post up or step out on the perimeter," added Les.
Saturday's crowd was the second-largest since the Pavilion was reconfigured and downsized to its current capacity in 2009. The largest crowd to fill the Pavilion took place on March 7, 2013, when ESPN2 broadcasted the first-ever nationally televised game from campus.
"These guys deserve all the credit. This was an emotional and passionate group at halftime, that was not going to let this unbelievable crowd down. They willed themselves to execute at a high level and play with great energy."
Tipoff in Irvine for next week's matchup is 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN3.
UC DAVIS 81, CAL POLY 78 (OT)
CAL POLY (10-10, 3-5 BWC)
Bennett, Brian 11-16 5-8 27; Love, Maliik 7-10 0-1 15; Shipley, Ridge 3-11 2-3 11; Awich, Joel 4-11 0-0 10; Nwaba, David 4-8 1-2 9; Bolden, Michael 1-6 3-3 6; Abrams, Aleks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-62 11-17 78.
UC DAVIS (16-4, 6-1 BWC)
Ritchart, Josh 9-13 0-0 24; Hawkins, Corey 8-16 3-4 22; Johnson, Avery 2-4 5-6 11; Fox, Josh 4-7 1-2 9; Monson, Neal 4-7 0-0 8; Graham, Darius 1-1 2-2 4; Adenrele, J.T. 1-6 1-2 3; Les, Tyler 0-2 0-0 0; Lemar, Brynton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-57 12-16 81.
Cal Poly....................... 40 25 13 - 78
UC Davis...................... 30 35 16 - 81
3-point goals--Cal Poly 7-20 (Shipley, Ridge 3-9; Awich, Joel 2-4; Love, Maliik 1-2; Bolden, Michael 1-4; Nwaba, David 0-1), UC Davis 11-19 (Ritchart, Josh 6-8; Hawkins, Corey 3-6; Johnson, Avery 2-2; Lemar, Brynton 0-1; Les, Tyler 0-2). Fouled out--Cal Poly-None, UC Davis-Ritchart, Josh. Rebounds--Cal Poly 34 (Bennett, Brian 9), UC Davis 29 (Ritchart, Josh 7). Assists--Cal Poly 13 (Shipley, Ridge 8), UC Davis 15 (Hawkins, Corey 6). Total fouls--Cal Poly 17, UC Davis 15. Technical fouls--Cal Poly-None, UC Davis-None. A-5317 Courtside technician: George Putnam