March 5, 2015
DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis put together a furious second-half rally against UC Riverside on Thursday night after trailing by 16 points in the first half, posting a 61-59 win over the Highlanders to win the Aggie men's basketball team's first Big West championship, while also securing the top seed for next week's conference tournament in Anaheim.
UC Davis won its third straight game, improving to 23-5 overall and 13-2 in the Big West. The Aggies also remained perfect on Hamilton Court this season, moving to 13-0. Corey Hawkins scored 21 points while Josh Fox, who hit 10 of 14 free throws, scored 14 to lead UC Davis.
Taylor Johns led three Highlanders in double figures with 15 points while Jaylen Bland and Steven Thornton each added 12. UC Riverside is 14-15 overall and 7-8 in the Big West.
UC Davis trailed 28-12 in the first half and never led in the opening 20 minutes before rallying to just a 30-25 halftime deficit. Two free throws from Josh Fox with 13:47 left in the second half brought the Aggies to within 39-35 but a three-pointer from Bland started a 9-0 Highlander run that pushed UC Riverside's lead to 48-35 at the midway point.
Trailing 54-47 with under four minutes to play, the Aggies put together one final comeback that was capped with 1:18 to go on a long trey from Graham that put UC Davis in front, 55-54. Hawkins followed with a floater in the lane with 38 seconds remaining to make it 57-56 after Johns had delivered UC Riverside a brief one-point lead. Four free throws down the stretch helped keep the Aggies in the lead and give them the historic win.
The Big West title is the first for the men's basketball program, its first league title at the NCAA Div. I level and its first overall since winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association title as a Div. II program in 1999.
The Aggies are also the first Big West team to win an outright championship since the conference moved to a single-division setup during the 2000-01 season.
UC Davis will enter the Big West Tournament next week as the No. 1 seed for the first time in school history and will face CSUN on Thursday. The winner of the tournament will earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. As regular-season conference champion, the Aggies have already secured an automatic berth to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
UC DAVIS 61, UC RIVERSIDE 59
UC RIVERSIDE (14-15, 7-8 BWC)
Johns, Taylor 6-15 2-7 15; Thornton, Steven 4-8 2-3 12; Bland, Jaylen 4-121-2 12; Gruninger, Nick 3-11 0-0 7; Larsson, Alex 3-5 0-0 6; Quick, Austin2-6 0-1 5; Boezeman, Robert 1-1 0-0 2; Standifer, Charles 0-0 0-0 0. Totals23-58 5-13 59.
UC DAVIS (23-5, 13-2 BWC)
Hawkins, Corey 5-12 9-11 21; Fox, Josh 2-4 10-14 14; Ritchart, Josh 3-102-2 9; Graham, Darius 2-5 1-3 6; Adenrele, J.T. 2-3 0-0 4; Les, Tyler 1-60-0 3; Johnson, Avery 1-1 0-0 2; Monson, Neal 0-1 2-2 2; Lemar, Brynton 0-10-0 0. Totals 16-43 24-32 61.
UC Riverside.................. 30 29 - 59
UC Davis...................... 25 36 - 61
3-point goals--UC Riverside 8-21 (Bland, Jaylen 3-5; Thornton, Steven 2-5;Gruninger, Nick 1-5; Quick, Austin 1-3; Johns, Taylor 1-3), UC Davis 5-18(Hawkins, Corey 2-5; Graham, Darius 1-3; Les, Tyler 1-6; Ritchart, Josh1-4). Fouled out--UC Riverside-Johns, Taylor, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--UCRiverside 37 (Larsson, Alex 11), UC Davis 35 (Ritchart, Josh 8).Assists--UC Riverside 13 (Gruninger, Nick 6), UC Davis 5 (Graham, Darius 1;Adenrele, J.T. 1; Hawkins, Corey 1; Les, Tyler 1; Ritchart, Josh 1). Totalfouls--UC Riverside 24, UC Davis 15. Technical fouls--UC Riverside-None, UCDavis-None. A-2511
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