ANAHEIM, Calif. - Tied at 34-34 with 13:24 remaining in Thursday's quarterfinal matchup at the Big West Tournament, UC Davis scored eight of the following 10 points throughout the next 2:30 to take the lead for good. As the half progressed, that six-point advantage grew to a game-high 11, and the Aggies advanced to Friday's semifinal round by defeating Cal Poly, 66-55.
With the exception of two tied scores, the Aggies led the tournament's inaugural game from start-to-finish.
UC Davis will enter that contest, against an opponent that is yet to be determined at the time of this release, with a 20-12 overall record — the second time in the last three years. that the Aggies won 20 or more games. Cal Poly will end its season with an 11-20 record.
"Everyone's execution on defense was outstanding. We've been preaching defense for a long time; when these guys are locked in like that, they are awfully hard to score on," said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
Plagued by early foul trouble, Brynton Lemar entered the locker room at halftime with only two points to his credit. Once action resumed, the Big West first-team honoree exploded for 16 points, and finished with a team-high total. Of his 18 points, nine were scored at the line (out of his 10 attempts).
In addition to posting 11 points, Chima Moneke recorded his conference-high 12th double-double of the season by collecting a career-high 18 rebounds, matching the program's single-game Division I-era record in the process. The league's Newcomer of the Year is now responsible for the second-highest individual rebound total in Big West Tournament history.
Also shining for UC Davis all game long was Lawrence White; on one end of the court, he forced four of Cal Poly's 15 turnovers with timely steals and blocks. On the other end, he nailed clutch threes from all over the court and finished with 13 points. Of White's four field goals, three took place from distance.
From the opening tip until the final buzzer, the Aggies dominated the rebound battle, which led to additional offensive possessions and limited the Mustangs' ability to find their rhythm on offense. UC Davis' 47 total rebounds are a season-high figure; it also collected more than twice as many rebounds on offense (15-7) and 16 more on defense (47-31) compared to CP.
Moneke was not the only Aggie who owned the glass Thursday afternoon since White also set a new career high by finishing with nine boards. Combined with J.T. Adenrele's seven rebounds — he also scored nine points and, like his teammate White, blocked two shots and forced two steals — UC Davis' trio out-rebounded the entire Mustang roster.
If UC Irvine win its 6 p.m. game vs. UC Riverside, the Aggies know it will compete in the second of two Friday semifinal matchups, which will begin at 9 p.m. against the second-lowest remaining seed. If the Highlanders pull off an upset, UC Davis will take the court at the Honda Center Friday evening at 6 p.m., and face the lowest remaining seed.
Follow UC Davis basketball on Twitter @UCDavisMBB, or visit the Aggies' Tournament Central webpage at UCDavisAggies.com for the lastest information on the team's run at the Big West Conference playoffs.
UC DAVIS 66, CAL POLY 55
NO. 7 CAL POLY (11-20)
Shipley, Ridge 6-14 2-2 19; Gordon, Zach 4-6 1-2 9; Meikle, Luke 3-6 0-0 7; Joseph, Victor 2-11 3-3 7; Fields, Donovan 3-8 0-0 6; Toth, Kyle 2-7 0-0 5; Hollingsworth, Hank 0-0 2-2 2; Niziol, Jakub 0-5 0-0 0; John, Trevor 0-1 0-0 0; Abrams, Aleks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 8-9 55.
NO. 2 UC DAVIS (20-12)
Lemar, Brynton 4-8 9-10 18; White, Lawrence 4-7 2-2 13; Moneke, Chima 4-15 3-5 11; Adenrele, J.T. 3-6 3-5 9; Graham, Darius 3-5 1-2 8; Goode, Garrison 1-1 1-2 3; Schneider, Siler 1-11 0-0 2; Henn, Mikey 1-4 0-0 2; Onyebalu, Michael 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 19-26 66.
Cal Poly....................... 21 34 - 55
UC Davis...................... 26 40 - 66
3-point goals--Cal Poly 7-22 (Shipley, Ridge 5-9; Meikle, Luke 1-2; Toth, Kyle 1-2; Niziol, Jakub 0-5; John, Trevor 0-1; Joseph, Victor 0-3), UC Davis 5-12 (White, Lawrence 3-5; Graham, Darius 1-2; Lemar, Brynton 1-1; Schneider, Siler 0-3; Henn, Mikey 0-1). Fouled out--Cal Poly-Shipley, Ridge, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--Cal Poly 31 (Gordon, Zach 12), UC Davis 47 (Moneke, Chima 18). Assists--Cal Poly 7 (Fields, Donovan 3), UC Davis 13 (Schneider, Siler 5). Total fouls--Cal Poly 20, UC Davis 15. Technical fouls--Cal Poly-Shipley, Ridge, UC Davis-Adenrele, J.T..