Feb. 25, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - Josh Ritchart scored 20 points and blocked a potential game-tying three-pointer by Isiah Umipig with 11 seconds left as UC Davis never trailed while upsetting Cal State Fullerton 78-75 in a Big West Conference men's basketball game at The Pavilion on Saturday night.
The Aggies, who recorded their biggest win of the season, improved to 5-23 overall and 3-11 in the Big West while the Titans were denied their 20th win, falling to 19-8 overall and 10-4 in the league. UC Davis has won four of its past six games overall and has won two straight at home and three of the past four.
Ritchart hit four three-pointers, matching the four made by teammate Tyler Les who had 14 points. Eddie Miller, one of two Aggie seniors along with Adam Malik honored during pregame ceremonies, posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds while freshman guard Tyrell Corbin finished with 10 points.
Guard D.J. Seeley had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Cal State Fullerton. Isiah Umpig had 15 points, Perry Webster added 12 and Orane Chin finished with 10.
"I'm really pleased with the all-out effort over the course of 40 minutes on both ends of the floor," said Aggie coach Jim Les. "It's been kind of fun to coach this team and watch them get better, watch them progress as the year's gone on."
UC Davis never trailed in the game, jumping to a 12-0 lead while holding Cal State Fullerton scoreless for more than six minutes out of the gate. The game was tied two times before the Aggies went up 35-25 at halftime. They went up by 14 points early in the second half, saw the Titans get to within 52-46 at the midway point and then rebuilt it to 10 points down the stretch.
Cal State Fullerton trailed just 70-69 with 1:36 to go but Miller and Corbin each hit two free throws to make it 74-69. Leading 76-73 after Webster's three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining, UC Davis turned the ball over in the backcourt, setting up a potential game-tying possession. However, Ritchart blocked Umipig's three-point try from the top of the key with 11 seconds to go and Miller sealed it with two more free throws after getting the rebound.
"You're not going to walk away from a team as good as Fullerton," said Les. "We knew they were going to make a run. It was just withstanding that run and making sure we had enough gas in the tank."
UC Davis played one of its best first halves of the season, jumping to a 12-0 lead behind consecutive three-pointers from Ritchart and Les while holding the Titans without a basket until Kwame Vaughn's corner trey ended the shutout with 13:33 on the clock. Miller's jumper got things going, J.T. Adenrele scored inside and Corbin made a layup before the back-to-back three-pointers.
Cal State Fullerton missed their first eight shots and had three turnovers during the Aggies' strong start. Umipig and Webster had three-pointers as the Titans went on a 14-2 run, tying the game 14-14 on Webster's tip-in midway through the half.
Consecutive three-pointers from Ritchart - he and Les each had three in the opening 20 minutes - pushed UC Davis in front 22-18 with 6:10 to go before Les matched him with two straight of his own to increase the lead to 10 points at 30-20. The Aggies built a 35-22 lead before the Titans were able to whittle their deficit to 35-25 at halftime.
The Aggies held the double-digit intermission lead despite commiting 10 turnovers and shooting 37.5 percent (12 of 32). The defense, though, held the Titans - who lead the Big West in three-point shooting - to just 33 percent (4 of 12) from beyond the arc and only 35.7 percent overall.
Ritchart and Les each had 11 points in the first half while Webster had nine for the Titans.
The Aggies didn't have any letdown to start the second half, picking up a jumper from Miller and a three-pointer from Ritchart to open a 42-30 lead after Seeley's three-pointer had brought the Titans to within seven two minutes earlier. A pair of free throws from Ritchart gave UC Davis its biggest lead of the game, 44-30 with 16:50 to go.
The Aggies held a decisive 45-33 advantage on the boards and that effort held keep Cal State Fullerton at arm's length throughout the second half despite the Titans outscoring UC Davis 50-43. Cal State Fullerton got no closer than six points until Seeley scored on a layup with 6:06 left that made it 62-57.
Miller's double-double was the Aggies' third of the season and its second in as many games after Ritchart had one on Monday at Seattle. Corbin had five assists.
Omondi Amoke had six blocked shots for Cal State Fullerton which came into the game shooting 47.3 percent from three-point but was held to just 25.8 percent (8 of 31) by UC Davis.
The Aggies will finish the regular season next week on the Central Coast, facing Cal Poly on Thursday and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.
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