USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - With 8:08 remaining, the UC Davis men's basketball team trailed Air Force by one point. What started with back-to-back free throws from Georgi Funtarov continued with seven straight points from Josh Fox, and ultimately ended with a 16-2 scoring run that helped the Aggies cement an 81-75 victory Saturday afternoon from Clune Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
UC Davis will leave Colorado Springs and now head to Greeley, Colorado, for Monday's matchup at Northern Colorado with an 8-1 record. Air Force falls to 6-4 with Saturday's result after suffering its first home loss of the season.
The Aggies have now recorded a hat trick of wins against Mountain West opposition this season. On Nov. 26, UC Davis toppled Utah State at home by seven in overtime before San José State fell by 14 in the final game of a season-long three-game homestand.
With the win, UC Davis has defeated Air Force in consecutive seasons, and now holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series.
"This is the guttiest team win, with an emphasis on guttiest and team, that I have been a part of as a player or a coach. Ever. We received great production from everybody; the bench was alive and the guys fought through the adversity. I am so proud of these guys for the way they hung in there and continued to battle," said head coach Jim Les.
In addition to Fox's seven points, Josh Ritchart canned a three which forced Air Force to call a timeout in an attempt to stave off a brutally efficient Aggie run. Darius Graham and Corey Hawkins also added baskets of their own to build a late double-digit lead. On the opposite end of the floor, Avery Johnson and Hawkins played phenomenal defense and limited Max Yon, the Falcons' top scorer, to only four points.
Trevor Lyons led Air Force in scoring with 18 points.
By defeating Air Force, the Aggies recorded their first Division I, post-finals victory since defeating The Citadel by a 79-61 score during the 2008-09 campaign.
Led by Hawkins and his 20, four Aggies scored double-digits for the second time this year. Coincidentally, this last happened when UC Davis faced Utah State, another member of the Mountain West Conference. With his jaw-dropping 15-point effort in the second half, Fox finished four points shy of his career high by finishing with 19. Both Ritchart and Neal Monson chipped in 10 points each.
Monson set a new season high by connecting on 3 of 4 attempts and all four shots taken at the line. The sophomore center's success from the stripe helped the Aggie set a new season-high free throw mark. By making all but three of its 28 shots, UC Davis easily topped its previous .875 clip when the team finished 14-for-16 against Utah State with Saturday's .893 mark.
In the second half alone, the Aggies' aggressiveness was rewarded with 22 trips to the free throw line. In turn, 20 of the team's 46 second-half points were earned in this manner.
UC Davis shot 25-for-28 overall (.521) compared to the Falcons who could only muster 26 field goals out of its 62 attempts (.419 FG pct.). Led by Darius Graham and his team-high five, assists were recorded on 17 of the team's field goals.
Monday night's game against the Bears will tip at 6 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. MT. If victorious, UC Davis will match the best 10-game start in the program's history. The 1997-98 Division II national championship team dropped only one of its first 10 games to start its season.
UC DAVIS (8-1)
Hawkins, Corey 7-13 6-6 22; Fox, Josh 7-10 4-5 19; Ritchart, Josh 3-6 3-3 10; Monson, Neal 3-4 4-4 10; Les, Tyler 2-6 3-3 9; Lemar, Brynton 1-2 3-3 5; Funtarov, Georgi 0-1 2-2 2; Johnson, Avery 1-3 0-0 2; Graham, Darius 1-3 0-2 2. Totals 25-48 25-28 81.
AIR FORCE (6-4)
LYONS, Trevor 6-10 5-8 18; WILLIAMS, Kamryn 6-13 5-5 17; KOCUR, Zach 6-10 0-0 16; MOONEY, Matt 6-15 2-2 16; MANNING, Ryan 1-1 2-2 4; YON, Max 1-8 2-4 4; JAMES, Dezmond 0-0 0-0 0; GRAHAM, Hayden 0-1 0-0 0; MOER, Zach 0-0 0-0 0;OLESINSKI, Marek 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 26-62 16-21 75.
UC Davis...................... 35 46 - 81
Air Force..................... 26 49 - 75
3-point goals--UC Davis 6-19 (Les, Tyler 2-6; Hawkins, Corey 2-5; Fox, Josh 1-1; Ritchart, Josh 1-4; Johnson, Avery 0-1; Funtarov, Georgi 0-1; Lemar, Brynton 0-1), Air Force Falcons 7-27 (KOCUR, Zach 4-7; MOONEY, Matt 2-8; LYONS, Trevor 1-3; YON, Max 0-5; GRAHAM, Hayden 0-1; OLESINSKI, Marek 0-2; WILLIAMS, Kamryn 0-1). Fouled out--UC Davis-None, Air Force Falcons-None. Rebounds--UC Davis 30 (Fox, Josh 6; Hawkins, Corey 6), Air Force Falcons 34 (WILLIAMS, Kamryn 14). Assists--UC Davis 17 (Graham, Darius 5), Air Force Falcons 14 (WILLIAMS, Kamryn 6). Total fouls--UC Davis 19, Air Force Falcons 21. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, Air Force Falcons-None. A-1585