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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - For the second time in 12 days, UC Davis competed in a road thriller that needed extra periods. Unlike their previous battle, which took place at Long Beach State and ended with junior communication major TJ Shorts II nailing the game winner with his running three in double OT, the Aggies needed an extra five minutes in Thursday’s Big West Conference game at Cal Poly to secure their desired result. As was the case versus the 49ers, UC Davis left an opponent’s house with a heart-stopping victory, with Aggies scoring the first six points of triple overtime to pull away and defeat the Mustangs by a 92-84 score.
Throughout his 50 minutes on the court, the most played by any player from either team, Shorts II recorded the Aggies' first triple-double in nearly a decade, which consisted of 10 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and 10 assists, another career best.
“TJ came up with so many big rebounds. I know it appears that he is one of the smallest guys on the floor, but he finds a way to raise up and come down with the ball no matter who is around him,” said Les.
Mark Payne is responsible for the other triple-double posted in the program's Division I era when he finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists on March 1, 2008, in that season's home game vs. Sacramento State.
With this victory, UC Davis swept Cal Poly for the third time in the last five seasons, earned its eighth win in the last 10 against the Mustangs, and will enter Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at UC Santa Barbara with a 17-9 overall and 8-4 Big West record.
“That was a gutsy win by these guys. We had a lot of opportunities to hang our heads, fold and accept an outcome, and they simply refused. I could not be more proud of them to gut this one out,” said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
Cal Poly will continue its season-ending homestand at 8-18 and 3-9.
“We just tried to make things as difficult as possible for Cal Poly and never hung our heads. When we kept playing in one overtime after another, we just looked at each other and pushed one another to keep fighting,” said senior communication Michael Onyebalu, who led all players with a career-high 24 points.
Of his seven baskets, five were hit from three; both totals are career highs.
“Coach Les is encourages us to take extra shots each day, I do not want to finish until I reach 300-500 made baskets. That hard work comes into play in times like this when you are comfortable, and confident to take that shot [from three],” Onyebalu added.
“Michael made some big shots, and he was active defensively too. The points stand out, and they were needed, but he also made some big plays for us defensively,” Les added.
Junior communication major Siler Schneider scored half of his 16 points in triple overtime, including the period’s first four points, which gave the Aggies a two-possession advantage that they held for the rest of the game.
“Shooters need to keep shooting, and he had some good looks throughout all three overtimes. I liked how he put it on the floor, attacked the basket, and converted at the free throw line. There are a lot of ways to manufacture points,” said Les.
Sophomore communication major Rogers Printup recorded three of his five field goals from three and finished with 15 points, junior psychology major AJ John tied a career high by scoring 13, sophomore economics major Joe Mooney scored three of his four baskets from three and added another 11 points.
At first, defense ruled Thursday's game with UC Davis limiting the Mustangs to only 18 points in the first half, the lowest recorded all season — four fewer than the team's previous opponent low which was originally set by Sacramento State in this year's Causeway clash at the Golden 1 Center, and matched by the Mustangs when they visited Davis on Jan. 27.
Cal Poly's 18 points were also the fewest allowed by the Aggies in any half since UCSB entered halftime of last year's Big West opener at the Pavilion with 15.
UC Davis' defense also forced Cal Poly to commit 12 turnovers in the first half alone, more than the Mustangs averaged per game (11.9), entering the Mott Athletics Center Thursday night.
In all, the Aggies scored 27 points off Cal Poly's 21 miscues.
Trailing 61-56 with 3:10 left to play in regulation, Onyebalu and Printup hit threes on consecutive possessions to give the Aggies a one-point lead with 2:21 remaining. A three from Cal Poly's Victor Joseph pushed his team ahead by two until Schneider hit both of his free throws with 11 ticks on the clock to force overtime.
Five lead changes and one tied score took place throughout the first four minutes of overtime since neither team led by more than two points the entire period. When Shorts II hit two free throws to pull the Aggies even at 70 apiece, another five-minute session was needed to determine a winner.
With neither team unable to score on its first set of possessions, Schneider recorded the first points of double OT when he drove from the three-point line to the basket, and pushed UC Davis ahead 72-70 with his layup.
After two free throws from Cal Poly's Luke Meikle, Onyebalu came up clutch again when he sank a shot from distance with less than a minute remaining. But that shot was matched by Meikle, who hit a three of his own to add another five minutes of game time on the clock.
Competing in their first triple-overtime game since March 5, 2016, the Aggies quickly jumped out to a six-point lead thanks to free throws and a jumper from Schneider, followed by a layup from Onyebalu. With the Mustangs trailing by that same margin, with 1:05 left to play, they had no choice but to foul and hope UC Davis missed its free throws.
That did not happen.
Instead, the Aggies hit eight at the free throw line throughout those 65 seconds, and held a three-possession cushion until the final buzzer sounded.
Throughout all three OTs, Schneider and Onyebalu led all players with a combined 10 points each. Even with every Aggie fighting fatigue, everyone still stepped up to make 15 of 17 free throws throughout the final 15 minutes of the game.
UC DAVIS 92, CAL POLY 84 (3OT)
UC DAVIS (17-9, 8-4 BWC)
Onyebalu, Michael 7-13 5-6 24; Schneider, Siler 5-13 6-6 16; Printup, Rogers 5-9 2-2 15; John, AJ 5-9 1-2 13; Mooney, Joe 4-7 0-0 11; Shorts II, TJ 2-11 6-7 10; Russell, Colin 1-4 1-2 3; Jackson, Delveion 0-1 0-0 0; Hennings, Arell 0-1 0-0 0; Goode, Garrison 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 29-70 21-27 92.
CAL POLY (8-18, 3-9 BWC)
Meikle, Luke 6-15 6-6 21; Joseph, Victor 6-17 5-5 19; Niziol, Jakub 5-12 0-0 15; Abrams, Aleks 3-5 5-7 11; John, Trevor 3-6 2-2 10; Fields, Donovan 1-8 2-2 4; Garoza, Karlis 1-1 0-0 2; Martin, Josh 1-6 0-0 2; James, Iziah 0-0 0-0 0; Crowe, Mark 0-4 0-0 0; Hollingsworth, Hank 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-75 20-22 84.
UC Davis...................... 27 37 6 5 17 - 92
Cal Poly........................ 18 46 6 5 9 - 84
3-point goals--UC Davis 13-26 (Onyebalu, Michael 5-7; Printup, Rogers 3-6; Mooney, Joe 3-5; John, AJ 2-3; Schneider, Siler 0-5), Cal Poly 12-32 (Niziol, Jakub 5-12; Meikle, Luke 3-5; Joseph, Victor 2-7; John, Trevor 2-3; Martin, Josh 0-1; Crowe, Mark 0-4). Fouled out--UC Davis-Goode, Garrison,
Cal Poly-Fields, Donovan. Rebounds--UC Davis 41 (Shorts II, TJ 10), Cal Poly 53 (Abrams, Aleks 11). Assists--UC Davis 21 (Shorts II, TJ 10), Cal Poly 15 (Fields, Donovan 6). Total fouls--UC Davis 20, Cal Poly 26. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, Cal Poly-TEAM. A-1264
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