Dec. 20, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - A 12-2 scoring run early in the second half turned a two-point UC Davis halftime deficit into a lead the Aggies possessed for the rest of the game en route to 78-70 victory over Southern Illinois in the inaugural game of the 2012 World Vision Classic sponsored by Gossner Food in Logan, Utah.
UC Davis will face tournament host Utah State at 7 p.m. (Pacific) Friday night in a game that will air on KSAC (105.5 FM) and ucdavisaggies.com.
Found in the crowd during Thursday's game were Utah Jazz coaching legends Jerry Sloan, Phil Johnson and Frank Layden who were in attendance to support UC Davis head coach Jim Les, a former Jazz player. The trio hung around the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum watch Utah State play Nicholls State, and also chatted with Les following the Aggies' victory.
"I am honored and humbled to have Frank Layden, Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson watch UC Davis play, they gave me my first shot in the league," said Les following the game.
Sophomore guard Corey Hawkins led all UC Davis scorers with 20 points, earned a team-high six assists and made all 12 of his shots at the charity stripe to finish with a perfect free-throw percentage for the third time this season.
Hawkins also made all nine of his attempts at the line at Sacramento State (Nov. 20) and all seven free throws taken vs. San Jose State (Dec. 5).
Sophomore forward J.T. Adenrele finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds to record his second double-double in as many games.
"You can see J.T. start blossoming with confidence. He has tremendous potential, his teammates have confidence in him and he continues to make big plays," said Les.
Thursday's game against Southern Illinois (6-3) is the latest in a string of solid performances by the Roseville-native; Adenrele is averaging 18 points and nine rebounds since taking the floor at Stanford last Saturday.
Led by senior guard Ryan Howley who recorded 15 rebounds, tying a career-high originally set in this year's Causeway Classic, UC Davis (3-6) dominated the glass from the opening whistle to the final buzzer to outrebound the Salukis 44-30.
Howley also set a new tournament record with his 15 boards.
"Howley just finds a way to get to the ball. He was physical, aggressive and played hard throughout the entire game," said Les.
The Aggies' 44 boards are one shy of their season-high, also set this season against their cross-Causeway rivals.
Ryan Sypkens was the third, and final Aggie to score 10 or more against the Salukis, earning all 15 of his points from three. Two of those five baskets were scored shortly after action resumed; Sypkens' first three gave his team its first lead of the second half, another one was scored just over a minute later to fuel UC Davis' decisive scoring run.
The junior guard entered the Classic leading all players in the country with an average of 4.57 three-point field goals made per game.
The Salukis made things interesting during the final 90 seconds, as they were able to pull within four with 57 seconds remaining. Trailing by as many as 10 points, the Salukis had no choice but to shoot a barrage of threes and foul the Aggies to stop the clock throughout the waning moments of the game.
Comprised of Adenrele's six and Hawkins' four, the Aggies made their last 10 straight shots at the line free to keep the Salukis at bay and earn a win in their first of three tournament games.
In addition to Friday's game against Utah State, UC Davis will face Nicholls State Saturday afternoon.
With an unblemished effort at the line against the Salukis, Adenrele tied a career high with six made free throws.
As a team, the Aggies were 25-for-51 (49 pct.), 7-for-20 (35 pct.) from three and set a new season high by making 21 of their 24 attempts at the line.
"I just thought our guys gutted one out, we did not play our best game. We played a lot better (last) Monday night, but we found ways to win. We rebounded and came up with loose balls and the 50/50 balls. We made plays when we were not playing our best," said Les.
At one point of the second half after UC Davis took a double-digit lead, the Salukis were able to decrease the Aggies' advantage to three with more than eight minutes still left on the clock.
Fouled on his layup, senior guard Paolo Mancasola completed an old-fashioned three-point play by recording his final free -throw made of the evening to push the Aggies' lead back to a more comfortable six-point cushion.
"We made big plays to get the victory. First, you have Paolo (Mancasola) going to the basket and getting an and-one when they were making their run," said Les. "Then J.T. (Adenrele) stepped up and made clutch free throws. Corey (Hawkins) also stepped up and went 12-for-12 on his free throws.
"We found a way to win when we did not play our best, that is a sign of our team maturing."
Southern Illinois forward Dantiel Daniels led his team with 23 points as the Salukis' starters were responsible for all but four of their team's points.
Conversely, UC Davis' bench chipped in 11.