Feb. 6, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. - Freshman Georgi Funtarov's three-pointer with seven seconds left in overtime was the game-winner for UC Davis Thursday night as the Aggies beat Cal State Northridge 90-86 to secure a split of the season series.
"This is the biggest shot that I have made in my career," said Funtarov in a postgame radio interview.
"There were some times in high school when I made the game-winning basket, but those shots were nothing like this. I just wanted to create some room to take a clear shot, it feels great to make a basket in a situation like this to help us win the game."
UC Davis, which beat Northridge for the fifth straight time on Hamilton Court, improved to 8-15 overall and 3-5 in the Big West. Corey Hawkins scored 27 points to lead the Aggies while Ryan Sypkens had 16 and Funtarov scored 15. Freshman Brynton Lamar added 12 points and Avery Johnson, who had seven points in the opening minutes, finished with 12.
Stephan Hicks made 10 of 15 shots and scored 23 points to lead the Matadors who fell to 11-13 overall and 3-6 in conference action. Stephen Maxwell added 21 points while Josh Greene tallied 19.
Hawkins, who transferred from Arizona State after one season, went over 1,000 points for his collegiate career and now has 1,021. He needs just 28 points for 1,000 as an Aggie.
Behind hot early shooting from Johnson, UC Davis raced to an 11-0 lead before stretching it to 46-25 with 2:24 to go in the first half. The Aggies went into halftime with a 49-32 lead.
The lead stayed at double digits until Northridge rallied in the final 10 minutes to get within three points twice in the last 44 seconds.
Aiding CSUN's comeback effort was a bizarre chain of events that took place shortly before the final media timeout of the game. In a well played, yet physical game, the Aggies were called for a flagrant foul on a layup by Hicks. Much to the dismay of the crowd, Hicks stepped to the line, sank both free throws, then made another layup when play resumed moments later to record a rare six-point possession.
From there, both teams traded baskets until Green connected from three on back-to-back Northridge possessions. On the first of those back-to-back shots, Greene took an off-balanced shot and flung the ball towards the basket in an attempt to draw a foul and earn three free throw attempts. Even though he failed in his effort to earn a whistle, his unaesthetic shot somehow found the bottom of the net after taking a couple bounces around. His final basket, made with 22 seconds to go in regulation, was the one that tied the game at 81-81 and forced another five minutes of action.
On the final play of regulation, Hawkins was defended well and couldn't get a clean shot off as the game went to overtime.
The Matadors led 82-81 in the extra period but UC Davis scored four straight on a pair of Sypkens free throws and a layup from Hawkins, on a CSUN flagrant foul, to go up 85-82 two minutes in. Trailing 86-84 with 25 seconds left, Northridge scored the equalizer on a dunk down the middle of the key from Hicks.
The Aggies worked the clock down to the final seconds before Funtarov created a straightaway look from nearly 21 feet and drained it. Greene's three-point try from the right side with three seconds was off the mark and Darius Graham was fouled rebounding the shot. By making the first of two free throws, the Aggies' held a two-possession lead that iced the result since only .5 seconds remained.
"We played really well tonight. With the three-point line in college basketball, teams have the ability to make quick runs. (The Matadors) made their run down the stretch and made some big threes to tie the game (at 81-81). It was then when my guys dug deep and showed their resilience even though momentum was clearly in CSUN's possession. We had numerous guys make big plays on key possessions tonight," said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
UC Davis made 13 free throws, including five from Hawkins and three each from Funtarov and Sypkens. The Aggies made 25 of 31 free throw attempts (81 pct.) while Northridge was 31 of 37 (84 pct.).
"(Hawkins) had the team strapped to his back tonight and faced three defenders on key moments of the game. On those possessions, he made the right play and found the right person on each occasion.
"That was a tough, physical team we played tonight. We won the rebounding battle, and I continue to see our team defense get better and better each game," added Les.
In the first half, Johnson helped the Aggies jump out to an early double-digit lead with his offensive outburst. At key moments in the second half, and throughout overtime, he was the one who drew the toughest matchups when the Aggies were on defense and helped the team step up when it counted the most.
Said Les after the game, "Avery (Johnson) continues to give us quality minutes. Simply stated, he is the leader of our defense. He set the tone for the entire team with the way he played tonight."
UC Davis returns to action on Saturday, hosting UC Irvine at 7 p.m. on Hamilton Court.