Feb. 7, 2013
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - From just after tip-off when sophomore forward J.T. Adenrele scored the inaugural points of the night on a vicious dunk with a Gaucho draped on his back, to the final seconds of the game, UC Davis simply dominated UC Santa Barbara in its wire-to-wire, 64-56 victory Thursday night in Santa Barbara.
The win improves the Aggies' record to 9-12 and 5-5 against Big West teams; UCSB falls to 7-15 with a 3-8 conference mark.
Not only did UC Davis exit The Thunderdome with a win for the first time since Jan. 13, 2007, the Aggies also snapped their nine-game slide by earning their first victory over the Gauchos since Jan. 22, 2009.
One of three Aggies to finish in double figures, sophomore guard Corey Hawkins led all scorers with 20 points and finished with a team-high nine rebounds.
Junior guard Ryan Sypkens scored 15, including three drained from well beyond the arc, with Adenrele chipping in another 10.
The Aggies led by as many as 16 points in the first half and possessed a double-digit lead throughout most of the game.
On the occasions where UC Santa Barbara tried to rally, the Aggies stepped up on defense, forced turnovers or made key shots to keep the Gauchos at a comfortable distance.
Even with his team possessing a sizable lead, freshman guard Olivier-Paul Betu took two steps outside the restricted area underneath the basket, held his ground and drew a charge on Gaucho forward Alan Williams.
On paper it was recorded as a UCSB foul and a UC Davis turnover, one of 13 forced by the Aggies. When the 6-2, 175-pound guard stood tall against a 6-7, 240-pound forward running at full speed towards the basket, the Aggie faithful both in the crowd and on the bench, erupted with excitement at the same time the Gaucho supporters fell silent.
"Olivier is a tough guy who leads our team in charges during practice. He may not be one of our biggest guys, but he is one of the toughest because he is always willing to lay his body on the line. That charge energized our team," said head coach Jim Les.
One of many frustrating moments for the Gauchos' leading scorer, Williams was constantly guarded by multiple Aggies whenever he possessed the ball.
Guarded by junior center Spencer Clayton throughout his time on the floor, the Big West's No. 4 scorer was limited to five field goals, earning one-third of his points at the charity stripe.
As was the case in their previous meeting earlier this season, Williams led all Gauchos in scoring, finishing with 15 points Thursday night. Unlike last January's meeting, however, Williams' influence on the game's overall outcome was minimal, at best.
The cohesiveness displayed by the Aggies on both sides of the floor impressed Gaucho fans to such a degree, UCSB students could only muster the following chant in the final minutes of the game while the rest shook their heads in disbelief.
It was that kind of game for UC Davis.
The Aggies' defense limited the Gauchos to seven field goals on 27 attempts in the first half; posting a 25.9 field goal percentage throughout the first 20 minutes of action, the Gauchos shot 34.9 percent (22-for-63 overall) on the night.
"UC Santa Barbara shoots the ball well, but I thought they missed a lot of shots because of our defense and our physicality. We (the coaches) are really pleased with our defensive effort tonight," said Les.
Were it not for a late-game flurry of activity from the Gauchos, the Aggies would have set a new season-low opponent field goal percentage.
On Dec. 17, 2012, Eastern Washington shot 33.3 percent from the field, the lowest figure recorded by an Aggie opponent this year.
UC Davis finished its night shooting 23-for-47 (48.9 pct.) from the floor, 7-for-16 (43.8 pct.) from three and 11-for-18 at the line.
The Aggies will end their Central California road trip at Cal Poly on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tip-off from Robert A. Mott Gymnasium in San Luis Obispo is scheduled for 7 p.m.