Feb. 22, 2014
HONOLULU - Down by as many as 18 points in the second half, UC Davis pulled within seven in the final moments of Saturday's Big West Conference game at Hawai'i. However, by making their final six straight free throws, the Rainbow Warriors were able to withstand the Aggies' scoring charge to defeat UC Davis by an 86-77 score.
The Aggies will return to Northern California with an 8-19 overall and 3-9 league record, Hawai'i is now 19-8 and 8-5 respectively.
"The guys played hard all night, even though the team faced some early adversity when we picked up some early fouls. Everyone busted their tails off tonight," said head coach Jim Les.
Last season, the crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Corey Hawkins score a school-record 40 points and tie another UC Davis mark by draining eight shots from three. This year, Hawkins scored a game-high 29 points on 8 of 14 shooting.
The junior guard connected on all but one of his five shots from three and was responsible for nine of his team's 22 free throws made.
Clint Bozner set new career highs by finishing with 16 points, on 5 of 6 shooting, in addition to connecting on 6 of 8 free throw attempts. Saturday's effort is a four-point improvement over his previous mark set earlier this season at Cal State Northridge.
"I had no clue about how many points I scored as the game progressed," said Bozner in a post-game interview. "I just wanted to run our offense and score whenever I saw a Hawai'i send the wrong player to guard me. When there was a mismatch, all I wanted to do is score, or look for a wide open teammate whenever there was a Hawai'i switch (on defense)."
Even though the Rainbow Warriors led by double digits through most of the second half, a tense crowd saw UC Davis respond to every UH scoring run as the game progressed, and watched their team's lead slowly dwindle as action continued.
With UC Davis able to trim a once-sizable Hawai'i advantage down to single digits, the Aggies were still within reach of the 'Bows when the game entered its final minute.
"If we could have created just one more scoring run and capitalized on Hawai'i's missed free throws, it would have been interesting to see how the Rainbow Warriors would have reacted," said Les.
Prior to sinking its last six shots from the stripe, UH missed six in a row at the line.
For a team that entered the night as the Big West's top team from three, the Aggies' last-minute seven-point had the potential to disappear in a flash. With the Aggies forced to press throughout the final seconds in an attempt to create another Hawai'i turnover, the Rainbow Warriors were able to maneuver their way downcourt to bump their lead back to the game's final margin.
UC Davis will return to The Pavilion for its final two home games of the season starting with Thursday's 7 p.m. contest versus Cal Poly. The Aggies will face UC Santa Barbara two days later in its home finale on March 1, a game that ESPN2 will broadcast nationwide.