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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - For the second straight season, UC Davis departed UC Santa Barbara with a victory, but it was how the Aggies won Saturday’s Big West Conference game at the Thunderdome that will resonate throughout the league entering the final two weeks of the season.
From the moment junior communication major Siler Schneider scored the game’s first points, until the final buzzer, UC Davis dominated play on both ends of the floor. In addition to holding the first place Gauchos to a season-low point total, the Aggies outscored UCSB 23-6 during a six-minute block of action in the second half to earn a 71-54 win and split this year's series.
With that result, UC Davis snapped UCSB’s 11-game home and eight-game overall win streaks, handed the Gauchos their first home loss of the year and swept its Central Coast road trip, which began with Thursday’s triple-overtime victory at Cal Poly.
"I thought the guys set the tone from the opening tip: Nothing was going to be easy against [UC Davis] tonight," said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
Off this upcoming Thursday thanks to their final bye of the year, the Aggies will open the final homestand of the 2017-18 season on Feb. 24, vs. UC Riverside, with an 18-9 overall and 8-4 Big West record. UC Santa Barbara is now 20-6 and 9-3 respectively, and holds a slim half-game lead over UC Davis in the conference standings.
Thanks to his efficient 9-10 shooting from the floor, junior communication major TJ Shorts II led all players with 20 points and six assists, in addition to earning five rebounds. Saturday marked his eighth 20-point game of the year and fourth 20 & 5 stat line in his first season as an Aggie.
For the second straight game and fourth time this season, junior psychology major AJ John scored a season-high 13 points, with three of his five buckets scored from three (all were hit in the second half). The third-year forward also collected six rebounds; when combined with junior economics major Garrison Goode's season-high eight rebounds, the duo recorded nearly 40 percent of the team's overall boards.
In addition to hitting two of his three shots from distance, and finishing with eight points, sophomore economics major Joe Mooney matched a career best with his four rebounds.
"We were locked-in defensively, and focused on outrebounding our opponents. Everyone brought it today, especially after what took place at Cal Poly, and earned a big-time win," said John.
As a team, UC Davis outrebounded UCSB 36-31 overall and 30-20 on the defensive glass. The Aggies also did a phenomenal job protecting the ball and committed only nine turnovers. Saturday's game marked the fifth time in the last seven games that UC Davis finished with fewer than 10 turnovers.
"We enjoyed a good balance from everyone tonight. As was the case on Thursday, Joe [Mooney] and Rogers [Printup] came in tonight and gave us a good lift," Les added.
Not only did UC Davis' bench more than triple UCSB's scoring by a 17-5 margin, the Aggies scored more points in the paint (36-24) and second chance points (9-4) than the Gauchos.
UC Davis led by six early until a three from Max Heidigger gave UCSB its first, and only lead of the day 11 minutes later. That advantage lasted 23 seconds until Goode's layup kick-started a 7-0 Aggie scoring run that gave his team the lead for good.
With the Aggies up by as many as nine points early in the second half, UCSB cut its deficit to four with 12:18 left to play. It was then when UC Davis ran away with the game by scoring 23 of the following 29 points.
"We couldn't build that run without some defensive stops, and when that happened, the ball started falling in. Before we knew it, everyone looked up at the scoreboard and saw a 20-point lead," said John.
The Aggies' lead eventually grew to a game-high 21 points.
Said Les, "I'm proud of these guys, especially since they are coming off a triple-overtime game the other night. There could have been a lot of excuses to mail this one in because they were tired, or thinking they were tired. The energy these guys played with throughout the game, especially after Thursday, is impressive."
UC DAVIS 71, UC SANTA BARBARA 54
UC DAVIS (18-9, 9-4 BWC)
Shorts II, TJ 9-10 1-2 20; John, AJ 5-9 0-1 13; Schneider, Siler 3-7 2-3 9; Mooney, Joe 3-6 0-0 8; Onyebalu, Michael 2-6 4-4 8; Printup, Rogers 3-6 0-0 7; Goode, Garrison 2-3 0-2 4; Hennings, Arell 1-4 0-0 2; Russell, Colin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-51 7-12 71.
UC SANTA BARBARA (20-6, 9-3 BWC)
Vincent, Gabe 5-12 5-5 17; Heidegger, Max 5-12 2-5 13; Jackson, Marcus 3-6 0-0 9; Lakoju, Ami 3-7 0-0 6; King II, Leland 2-13 0-0 4; Blackmon, Jarriesse 1-5 0-0 2; Terrell, Christian 0-1 2-2 2; Hart, Alex 0-0 1-2 1; Davis, Brandon 0-1 0-0 0; Kupchak, Maxwell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-57 10-14 54.
UC Davis............................... 34 37 - 71
UC Santa Barbara.............. 29 25 - 54
3-point goals--UC Davis 8-22 (John, AJ 3-6; Mooney, Joe 2-4; Shorts II, TJ 1-1; Printup, Rogers 1-4; Schneider, Siler 1-3; Onyebalu, Michael 0-4), UC Santa Barbara 6-21 (Jackson, Marcus 3-5; Vincent, Gabe 2-5; Heidegger, Max 1-5; Terrell, Christian 0-1; Davis, Brandon 0-1; King II, Leland 0-4). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, UC Santa Barbara-None. Rebounds--UC Davis 36 (Goode, Garrison 8), UC Santa Barbara 31 (Lakoju, Ami 8). Assists--UC Davis 15 (Shorts II, TJ 6), UC Santa Barbara 13 (Vincent, Gabe 5). Total fouls--UC Davis 18, UC Santa Barbara 16. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, UC Santa
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