DAVIS, Calif. - Even though UC Davis trailed 51-40 with 4:27 remaining in Wednesday’s home opener vs. Northern Colorado, nobody left the Pavilion early because everyone in attendance knew that the Aggies’ defense was capable of erasing that deficit… and that is exactly what happened until junior communication major Siler Schneider’s jumper, with 51 seconds left on the clock, gave his team the lead for good.
Leading by three, with 24 ticks remaining, a block from senior communication major Michael Onyebalu extended the Bears scoring drought, which eventually led to a three-possession cushion for the Aggies when senior communication major Chima Moneke and junior human development major TJ Shorts II each hit a free throw to help UC Davis collect its 12th straight home win, thanks to its 56-51 result.
In addition to snapping UNC’s five-game win streak, the Aggies will now head to Washington State for Saturday’s 12 p.m. tilt with a 4-2 record. The Bears return home with a 5-3 record, with two of those losses suffered this season against UC Davis.
“I told the guys in the locker room after the game that good teams find a way to manufacture a win when they do not play their best, and that is what those guys did tonight,” said head coach Jim Les.
In addition to its late-game scoring surge, the Aggies’ defense frustrated the Bears all night long. In addition to holding Northern Colorado to 22 points in the first half, UC Davis’ defense forced it to connect on just 1 of 23 attempts from three (.043 pct.) and 16 of 57 shots overall (.281).
“Tonight's game was a good gut check for this team. They never hung their heads or gave up, they just worked their way through adversity. And that is a great sign this early in the season,” Les added.
“We all believed that we could battle back, the bench kept everyone alive with their words and energy,” said Moneke. “Coach always preaches that if you make defensive stops, the ball will find a way to fall through the hole on the other end.”
Moneke led all Aggies with 17 points, and combined with his season-high 16 rebounds, earned his fourth double-double in the last five games and 18th of his career.
Shorts added 13 points and Schneider chipped in another 11 points to go with his season-high six rebounds.
With 4:27 on the clock, Northern Colorado’s Tanner Morgan responded to Schneider’s back-to-back free throws by making a layup of his own with 4:27 left in the game, pushing his team's lead to 11 in the process.
Those were the Bears’ final points of the night.
Following Morgan’s basket, Moneke hit three free throws and Schneider canned a three, which chopped the Aggies’ deficit down to five with just under three minutes remaining. UC Davis’ scoring run continued with four straight points from Shorts II, which shrunk the Bears’ lead to just one point. By sinking a jumper with 51 seconds remaining, Schneider completed his team’s comeback effort and pushed it ahead on the scoreboard entering the final minute of action.
After a missed layup from Andre Spight, Shorts II extended the Aggies’ lead to three by connecting on his layup, which forced UNC to make a quick decision: try to score a quick basket, and trim its deficit to one, or look for a three to even the score.
On the Bears’ next possession, Anthony Johnson tried to shoot a quick three, but was instantly denied when Onyebalu swatted his shot into the hands of Moneke, who was immediately fouled to stop the clock.
Following Moneke’s first free throw, Shorts II was fouled by Jordan Davis, who was a little too aggressive in blocking out the Aggie guard, which drew another two UC Davis free throw attempts following Moneke’s second attempt.
Once Shorts II connected on his second attempt at the stripe, which sealed the victory, all Northern Colorado could do was walk off the court once the buzzer sounded two seconds later after watching UC Davis score 16 unanswered points to collect its seventh head-to-head win in a row.
Davis lead the Bears in scoring with 19 points followed by Johnson who finished with nine. Only four other UNC players recorded a point outside of that pair, each was held to seven points or fewer.
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Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley.
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