Feb. 2, 2012
IRVINE, Calif. - Sophomore Josh Ritchart hit four three-pointers - including three in the second half - but host UC Irvine picked up 13 points after the break from Chris McNealy and closed the game on a 20-9 run to down UC Davis 68-61 in a Big West Conference men's basketball game on Thursday at the Bren Events Center.
It was another hard-luck loss for the Aggies who led by as many as five points in the first half and were up 52-48 with 6 minutes, 2 seconds to go before the 'Eaters rallied down the stretch.
McNealy had a trio of three-pointers and scored 16 points, leading four 'Eaters in double figures. Guard Daman Starring had 13 points, Michael Wilder added 12 and Adam Folker scored 11, all of his coming in the second half.
UC Davis has dropped five of its conference games by a total of 16 points, an average of just 3.2 ppg. in those contests.
The Aggies trailed by four points at halftime but Ritchart's second three-pointer tied the game 36-36 early in the second half while Alex Tiffin's layup underneath put them in the lead for the first time since the first half.
Ritchart hit another three-pointer near the midway point of the half to put the UC Davis in front 43-40 and the Aggies continued to lead, opening a 52-48 advantage after Tyrell Corbin's three-point play with 6:02 to go.
The teams were tied 53-53 with just over four minutes left after Travis Souza hit a bit three-pointer. McNealy followed with another and UC Irvine went up by six points with three minutes to go. UC Davis could not climb closer than six points the remainder of the game.
"Our game plan was to give ourselves a chance to win with five minutes to go and the guys did that," said Aggie coach Jim Les. "I told them they needed to hold this team under 70 points and that was going to give them a chance and they did that.
"The last two ball games have been so much better in terms of the effort, energy and intensity at which we're playing with. Now we've just got to close out a game," he added. "And what the entails is making plays coming down the stretch."
The Aggies led 5-0 out of the gates - their largest lead of the first half - before UC Irvine used a 16-4 run over a six-minute span to take a 19-11 lead with 11:43 left before halftime. The Anteaters were up 22-15 just past the midway point before DuPont scored on a jumper and Ritchart hit a three-pointer from the wing to make it 22-20.
Paolo Mancasola's trey from the far corner later sliced the lead to just 26-25 but a 6-0 UC Irvine surge, capped by a jumper from Damon Starring, opened the lead back up to 32-25 with just over a minute remaining. Corbin's driving three-point play with 31 ticks left brought the Aggies to within 32-28 at halftime.
UC Davis, which tied its season-high by shooting 50 percent from the floor in last weekend's narrow loss to Cal Poly, made 48 percent (12 of 25) of its attempts in the first half. Led by seven points from both Corbin and Mancasola, the Aggies had six different players score. They also trailed just 15-14 on the boards.
The Aggies finished the game with a 43-34 rebounding advantage, paced by a career-high nine by Ritchart. UC Davis had 11 offensive rebounds in the second half. Corbin had seven rebounds while Tiffin finished with six.
UC Davis will try to end its 17-game losing streak on Saturday when it visits UC Riverside for a 7 p.m. game. The Highlanders edged the Aggies 60-58 on Jan. 5.
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