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DAVIS, Calif. - For the fourth time this year, UC Davis led from start to finish, and earned a 70-59 home win over Hawai’i in Thursday’s Big West Conference matchup. With this result, the Aggies will head to UC Irvine for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. season finale, broadcasted by ESPN3, with an opportunity to win their third league title in the last four years.
Thanks to Long Beach State’s buzzer-beating victory at UC Santa Barbara Thursday night, Saturday’s road game at UC Irvine sets up a situation Big West basketball fans are familiar with: a winner-take-all opportunity. As was the case last season, either the Aggies, or Anteaters will win a regular season title outright and earn the No. 1 seed at next week’s conference tournament with a win this weekend.
UC Davis will enter that pivotal matchup with a 20-9 overall and 11-4 Big West record; Hawai’i will head to Cal State Fullerton for its season finale with records of 16-12 and 7-8.
Thursday’s victory also led to the Aggies’ third 20-win season in the last four years. This game also continued a season-long trend for the team since it is now 11-0 on the year when holding points to 59 points of less. The Rainbow Warriors’ 59 points are five shy of its season low and the second-lowest scored in a league game.
The Aggies also forced UH to commit 12 off its 16 turnovers before halftime, which led to 14 points.
Thanks to its torrid shooting from three, and trademark defense, UC Davis entered halftime against Hawai'i with a 36-21 lead. Of the team’s 10 three-pointers made throughout the night, a season-high total for a regulation game, six took place before the break. Of those six, junior communication major Siler Schneider canned two of them.
Combined with his five field goals from inside the arc, Schneider scored 16 points in the first half. By comparison six Rainbow Warriors were responsible for its 21 points throughout the first 20 minutes of action.
Also enjoying a hot start was sophomore economics major Joe Mooney, who scored 11 of his career high 14 points prior to halftime. That was one of three marks Mooney hit on Senior Night, his four threes and five field goals are new career bests.
For the fourth time in the last six games, junior communication major TJ Shorts II crossed the 20-point threshold, and finished with a game-high 21. The 5-foot-9 guard also collected four rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Junior psychology major AJ John was the final Aggie who scored double digits and did so by connecting on three of his four baskets from three.
In his final home game as an Aggie, senior communication major Michael Onyebalu earned a team-high eight rebounds; senior American Studies major Arell Hennings collected two assists in his last appearance on Hamilton Court.
“It was good to get a solid team win and send these seniors out the right way,” said Schneider.
Added the junior guard regarding Saturday’s season finale, the second time in as many seasons that the Aggies and Anteaters will square off for a conference championship and No. 1 seed in next week’s league tournament, “if we play our style of basketball, play the type of defense we are capable of, we are tough to beat.
“UC Irvine is a tough team, they have been playing well these past few weeks and we have not seen them since the first week [of league play], I am sure we will see some new things.”
UC Irvine and UC Davis opened league play on Jan. 4 inside the Pavilion, a game the Aggies won by a 64-53 score.
“[UC Irvine] is a lot like us. They are really good defensively, and they have a number of guys who can score. They do a really good job of placing those scorers in positions where they can succeed, and then pressure you with their defense. This is going to be a knock-down, drag-out championship bout… and I like it,” said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
UC DAVIS 70, HAWAI'I 59
HAWAI'I (16-12, 7-8 BWC)
Thomas, Mike 4-7 4-4 13; Johnson, Gibson 4-6 4-4 12; Purchase, Jack 3-7 3-3 11; Drammeh, Sheriff 2-7 3-4 9; Stepteau, Brocke 2-4 0-1 5; Green, Leland 2-7 0-0 5; Avea, Samuta 1-3 0-0 2; Buggs, Drew 1-5 0-0 2; Buscher, Zach 0-0 0-0 0; Flaisher, Ido 0-0 0-0 0; Raimo, Zigmars 0-0 0-0 0; Thomas, Brandon 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 14-16 59.
UC DAVIS (20-9, 11-4 BWC)
Shorts II, TJ 6-10 8-8 21; Schneider, Siler 7-13 0-0 16; Mooney, Joe 5-7 0-1 14; John, AJ 4-8 0-0 11; Goode, Garrison 1-2 2-2 4; Onyebalu, Michael 1-2 0-0 2; Russell, Colin 1-2 0-0 2; Hennings, Arell 0-0 0-0 0; Printup, Rogers 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-47 10-11 70.
Hawai'i........................ 21 38 - 59
UC Davis...................... 36 34 - 70
3-point goals--Hawai'i 7-23 (Purchase, Jack 2-6; Drammeh, Sheriff 2-4; Thomas, Mike 1-1; Green, Leland 1-4; Stepteau, Brocke 1-2; Thomas, Brandon 0-2; Buggs, Drew 0-3; Avea, Samuta 0-1), UC Davis 10-20 (Mooney, Joe 4-5; John, AJ 3-5; Schneider, Siler 2-5; Shorts II, TJ 1-2; Printup, Rogers 0-2; Onyebalu, Michael 0-1). Fouled out--Hawai'i-None, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--Hawai'i 25 (Johnson, Gibson 6), UC Davis 28 (Onyebalu, Michael 8). Assists--Hawai'i 15 (Stepteau, Brocke 5), UC Davis 17 (Schneider, Siler 4; Shorts II, TJ 4). Total fouls--Hawai'i 17, UC Davis 18. Technical fouls--Hawai'i-Drammeh, Sheriff, UC Davis-None. A-2491
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