Feb. 20, 2013
LONG BEACH, Calif. - On the court for all 40 minutes, Corey Hawkins finished with a team-high 21 points, and J.T. Adenrele posted his third double-double of the season Wednesday night at Long Beach State in a Big West Conference game that ended in the 49ers' favor by a 71-65 score.
UC Davis falls to 11-14 overall and 7-7 in the conference with the result, Long Beach State is now 17-9 and 13-2 against Big West teams.
"They played their tails off tonight, fought hard and battled," said head coach Jim Les following the game.
Recording his first double-double since his 18-point, 11 rebound effort versus Nicholls State at the World Vision Challenge last December, Adenrele scored 13 points and finished with a team-high 11 rebounds in the Aggies' inaugural meeting of the season against Long Beach State.
Not reflected in the final score was one of the most intense efforts on defense by a UC Davis squad that fell just a few 49er free throws shy of handing Long Beach its first home conference loss in three seasons.
Regardless of who was in the game for UC Davis, all five players wasted no time in diving after every loose ball, crashing the baskets on both ends of the floor or standing tall to take a charge, ultimately forcing 11 Long Beach turnovers.
In addition to Adenrele, Olivier Paul-Betu, Tyler Les, and Paolo Mancasola all earned floor burns throughout the first half, forcing eight 49er first-half miscues to help UC Davis take a nine-point lead at the break.
Also aiding the Aggies' cause was a 10-2 scoring run in the final minutes of the first half and a defense that did not allow Long Beach to record a point in seven straight possessions.
Long Beach needed to shoot 60-plus percent in the second half just to draw even with UC Davis entering the final minutes of the game, and an uncharacteristic effort at the free throw line to pull away from the Aggies late and escape with the win.
Entering the final minute of the game down by three, UC Davis was out of timeouts and was forced to foul - a wise strategy as the 49ers entered Wednesday's game ranked No. 8 out of the 10 Big West teams at the stripe this season.
Whenever UC Davis trimmed Long Beach's lead to a one-possession margin, the 49ers increased their advantage gradually by making their free throws.
Led by James Ennis who finished with a perfect percentage, Long Beach made five of its last six shots at the line hand UC Davis a heartbreaking loss entering Saturday afternoon's ESPN BracketBusters game versus Northern Colorado.
"We just needed to make some plays down the stretch because we were able to score," said J. Les.
In addition to Hawkins and Adenrele, Ryan Howley chipped in 10 points, two of which were earned on a thunderous baseline dunk over two 49ers much to the excitement of the UC Davis bench and fans in attendance.
T. Les finished just shy of posting double digits, but did make clutch three-point shots throughout the first half whenever Long Beach State began to build a little momentum.
"Our offense in the first half helped our defense out as well because they (Long Beach) were not able to score any points in transition. We did not allow them to score any fast break points in the first half," explained J. Les.
"This was a valiant effort, hopefully we will have a big crowd turn out on March 7, when we see these guys again and take another shot at the best team in our league."
Wednesday's matchup is the first of two head-to-head meetings involving UC Davis and Long Beach State within a brief 15-day timespan; ESPN2 will televise the return contest on March 7, the Aggies' next Big West Conference home game.
Central Coast road trip kicks-off at Cal Poly
vs. UC Riverside (5 p.m.)