DAVIS, Calif. - Thanks to Chima Moneke's buzzer-beating tip-in, UC Davis will compete for a Big West Tournament championship, and the league's automatic berth in this year's NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. because that basket lifted the Aggies to a 66-64 overtime victory.
Prior to Moneke's basket, Brynton Lemar scored every point for the Aggies in OT. Lemar led all playes with 23 points and notched his ninth 20-point game of the season; on the final play of the night, Moneke scored his 18th and 19th point of the night and collected his 14th rebound to post his league-high 12th double-double of the season, and third in the last five games.
UC Davis will enter Saturday's 8:30 p.m. championship game, broadcasted by ESPN2, with a 21-12 overall record. Cal State Fullerton, a team that entered Friday's semifinal matchup with wins in seven of its previous eight games, ends its season with a 17-14 record.
"I've been doing this for a while ... and I told the guys in the locker room after the game that I have never been part of a guttier performance. I thought these guys showed who they are -- the character, the makeup, resiliency, toughness and refuse-to-lose mentality. This was awesome to be a part of, I am glad they earned the result they worked so hard for," said head coach Jim Les.
UC Davis' defense came up with a huge shot at the end of regulation when Khalil Ahmad's game-winning attempt from three fell woefully short. Even though Cal State Fullerton scored the first three points of the extra session, the Aggies pulled even on four occasions, the last on Lemar's layup with 41 seconds left to play.
Following a missed three from Tre' Coggins in his attempt to beat the shot clock, Siler Schneider collected the rebound and quickly raced towards the opposite end of the court. Able to create a clean look from three of his own, hit attempt just bounced off the rim, but landed in the hands of his teammate, Moneke.
"I knew when Siler shot it, there was time left on the clock. I saw Khalil -- he didn't box out and was just watching the shot -- and I snuck in. I knew that if there was a missed shot, I would get the offensive rebound. I tried to stay cool because I knew there was enough time to get it up and in," said Moneke.
In addition to Lemar's scoring prowess throughout the extra session, it was the extra effort from other Aggies that helped create an opportunity to win Friday's semifinal in the first place.
"Lawrence (White) and J.T. (Adenrele), came up with huge plays throughout the game. Whether it was on defense with a blocked shot or steal, a key basket or a hustle play, that extra effort is infectuous and really infused this team with extra energy when we needed it the most," said Les.
ESPN2 will televise Saturday's 8:30 p.m. championship game live from the Honda Center; a video stream is also available on ESPN3.com, WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. Basketball fans can also tune to KSAC 105.5 FM, access an internet audio stream at UCDavisAggies.com, or access Westwood One's broadcast in one of numerous ways: on Sirius Channel 134, XM Channel 201, online at www.westwoodonesports.com/bigwest or on the TuneIn app at WestwoodOne Sports Main.
UC DAVIS 66, CAL STATE FULLERTON 64 (OT)
CAL STATE FULLERTON (17-14)
Tre' Coggins 6-18 6-7 22; Khalil Ahmad 6-19 1-1 14; Lionheart Leslie 4-9 4-4 12; Austen Awosika 2-4 3-4 7; Kyle Allman 1-11 1-2 3; Davon Clare 1-1 0-0 2; Richard Peters 1-2 0-0 2; Arkim Robertson 1-2 0-0 2; Darcy Malone 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-67 15-18 64.
UC DAVIS (21-12)
Lemar, Brynton 9-21 3-3 23; Moneke, Chima 5-10 9-16 19; Adenrele, J.T. 3-3 2-2 8; White, Lawrence 3-10 0-0 6; Schneider, Siler 2-8 0-0 4; Goode, Garrison 2-6 0-0 4; Graham, Darius 0-2 2-2 2; Onyebalu, Michael 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 16-23 66.
Cal State Fullerton........... 18 37 9 - 64
UC Davis.......................... 24 31 11 - 66
3-point goals--Cal State Fullerton 5-20 (Tre' Coggins 4-12; Khalil Ahmad 1-6; Kyle Allman 0-1; Lionheart Leslie 0-1), UC Davis 2-18 (Lemar, Brynton 2-9; White, Lawrence 0-3; Schneider, Siler 0-4; Graham, Darius 0-1; Onyebalu, Michael 0-1). Fouled out--Cal State Fullerton-Arkim Robertson, UC
Davis-White, Lawrence. Rebounds--Cal State Fullerton 40 (Khalil Ahmad 8), UC Davis 48 (Moneke, Chima 14). Assists--Cal State Fullerton 8 (Lionheart Leslie 2; Khalil Ahmad 2), UC Davis 6 (Lemar, Brynton 3). Total fouls--Cal State Fullerton 21, UC Davis 17. Technical fouls--Cal State Fullerton-None,
UC Davis-None. A-4083