IRVINE, Calif. - Tyler Les broke a 19-19 tie with 5:37 left in the first half by draining one of his seven free throws, UC Davis scored 16 of the final 22 points before the break to take a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime of Thursday's Big West matchup from the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif., and led by as many as 25 points in the second half to record a dominating 75-56 win against UC Irvine.
UC Davis will remain in first place heading into Saturday's game at CSUN with its 17-4 overall and 7-1 league mark. UC Irvine slips to second place and will enter its next game, at Long Beach State, with a 13-9 overall and 6-2 Big West record.
With the win, UC Davis snapped its seven-game losing streak against the Anteaters and won its first game inside the Bren Events Center since Jan. 17, 2009.
In a matchup that featured the Big West's top two shooting teams - UC Davis leads the league with its three-point and overall field goal percentage - it was the Aggies' bench, and play in the paint that helped the team record a statement victory.
Josh Ritchart led all players with 22 points by connecting on 10 of 11 shots, and 2 of 3 taken from distance. The senior guard/forward also led his team with six rebounds.
Of UCI's 56 points, a new season low for an Aggie opponent, Will Davis II was responsible for a team-high 18.
Led by Les who scored a season-high 18 points by canning three of his four shots from three, and all seven attempts at the line, UC Davis' reserves outscored the Anteaters' bench, 36-24.
Neal Monson also recorded four field goals and made 2 of 3 shots at the stripe to finish with 10 points.
The Aggies also outscored the Anteaters in the paint by a 40-24 margin.
"Anytime you can come into somebody else's house and hold them to 30 percent shooting, and 20 percent from three, you are going to put yourself in a good position to win the game. We were aggressive, physical and made all the hustle plays - and that translated into good offensive opportunities," said head coach Jim Les.
As a team, UC Davis was 28-for-52 overall (.538), 7-for-10 from three (.700) and 12-for 14 from the line. By comparison, UC Irvine finished 17-for-56 (.304), 3-for-15 (.200) and 19-for-27 (.704).
Even more remarkable about Thursday's victory was the fact that it took place against a quality Anteater squad, without Corey Hawkins, the nation's top three-point shooter and sixth-highest scorer in the lineup.
"When the guys found out during the pregame meal that Corey was not going to play, I thought everyone accepted the challenge. They all understood that with Corey out, everyone needed to step up to win this game.
"We have had Josh miss a game, J.T. (Adenrele) miss a game and now Corey miss a game and this team does not skip a beat. That's the true measure of a team," added Les.
"What you saw out there was everyone playing together as hard as they could, as a team, to make good things happen," said Ritchart.
UC Davis will end its weekend on Saturday, at CSUN, in its third nationally broadcasted Big West game. Northern California fans can watch this weekend's Aggies-Matadors matchup on FOX College Sports Pacific, Southern California supporters can tune to FOX Prime Ticket to see their favorite team in action.
Tipoff from the Matadome is set for 7 p.m.
UC DAVIS 75, UC IRVINE 56
UC DAVIS (17-4 (7-1 BWC))
Ritchart, Josh 10-11 0-0 22; Les, Tyler 4-5 7-7 18; Monson, Neal 4-7 2-3 10; Fox, Josh 3-8 0-0 6; Lemar, Brynton 3-4 0-0 6; Johnson, Avery 1-4 2-2 5; Adenrele, J.T. 1-7 1-2 3; Graham, Darius 1-4 0-0 3; Onyebalu, Michael 1-1 0-0 2; Dueck, Justin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 12-14 75.
UC IRVINE (13-9 (6-2 BWC))
Davis II, Will 7-11 4-6 18; Ryan, John 2-4 3-4 7; Nelson, Luke 2-11 1-2 7; Dimakopoulos,Ioannis 2-3 2-2 6; Dunning, Dominique 2-5 1-2 5; Wright, Aaron 1-4 2-2 4; Saprykinas, Haroldas 0-0 4-5 4; Martin, Jaron 1-5 0-0 3; Best, Mike 0-6 2-4 2; McConnell, Reed 0-2 0-0 0; Young, Alex 0-1 0-0 0; Souza, Travis 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 17-56 19-27 56.
UC Davis...................... 35 40 - 75
UC Irvine..................... 25 31 - 56
3-point goals--UC Davis 7-10 (Les, Tyler 3-3; Ritchart, Josh 2-3; Johnson, Avery 1-3; Graham, Darius 1-1), UC Irvine 3-15 (Nelson, Luke 2-5; Martin, Jaron 1-4; Dunning, Dominique 0-1; Young, Alex 0-1; Souza, Travis 0-4). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, UC Irvine-None. Rebounds--UC Davis 33 (Ritchart, Josh 6), UC Irvine 35 (Ryan, John 9). Assists--UC Davis 13 (Graham, Darius 5), UC Irvine 8 (Young, Alex 2; Ryan, John 2). Total fouls--UC Davis 22, UC Irvine 13. Technical fouls--UC Davis-TEAM, UC Irvine-Ryan, John. A-2094