Second-Half Surge Leads to an 80-74 Victory

Avery Johnson led all players with three steals in Saturday's non-conference home game against Air Force.

Dec. 21, 2013

Box Score

DAVIS, Calif. – Led by Corey Hawkins who scored a game-high 20 points, a dominating effort from the Aggies’ bench and a complete team effort on both ends of the floor during Saturday's non-conference game, UC Davis opened its three-game homestand with an 80-74 victory against the Air Force Falcons.

The win snapped UC Davis’ seven-game slide and improves its record to 4-9. Led by matching 20-point efforts from Justin Hammonds and Tre’ Coggins, Air Force ends its non-conference schedule with a 6-5 mark.

Even though the Falcons entered the locker room with a 38-34 advantage at the break, it was the Aggies who had momentum on their side by scoring five of the half’s final seven points. Once play resumed, UC Davis continued its 15-4 scoring run throughout the first 4:14 of the second half to eliminate its deficit, and build a four-point lead in the process.

A layup from Marek Olesinski and a three-pointer from Max Yon helped Air Force reclaim its advantage shortly after UC Davis took the lead, but a tip-in from Georgi Funtarov on the very next play gave the Aggies an advantage they never relinquished. 

Behind his 4-for-9 shooting from three, and 5-for-5 effort at the free throw line, Ryan Sypkens was the other Aggie to score double figures and finished with 17 points. Including Saturday's contest, the senior guard remains perfect at the stripe this season. 

In a game that saw all nine UC Davis players record at least one field goal, the Aggies also outscored the Falcons 44-32 in the paint, were responsible for all 15 fast break points and possessed a bench that overwhelmed Air Force's reserves. 

Even though Sypkens accounted for just over half of UC Davis' 32 bench points, compared to the Falcons who only mustered six, big plays were made by all four Aggie subs.

Not only did Clint Bozner tie his season high by scoring eight points, he also grabbed three rebounds and made two key plays that energized his teammates and brought UC Davis fans to their feet.

On one play, Bozner dove to the floor to recover a loose ball that eventually led to three of the Aggies' 16 second-chance points, another play saw the junior forward throw down a thunderous two-handed jam with a Falcon draped on his back.

Besides chipping in four points and four rebounds, Avery Johnson also matched a career high (for the third time) with three steals. By ending with a team-high figure for the fifth time this season, the junior forward now leads all Aggies with 18 steals - more than one-quarter of his team's total.

"Avery is our utility guy... he's willing to do anything the team needs. He is active on defense, gets his hands on a lot of balls, brings length and athleticism and is disruptive defensively.

"I thought our bench play was huge because there were able to continue to pressure Air Force on offense, made stops on defense and allowed our starters to make the most of their break," added head coach Jim Les.

Shortly after he entered the game midway through the second half, Olivier-Paul Betu made a free throw and slashed through the Falcon defense to score another two Aggie points with his layup, on consecutive possessions, to help UC Davis extend its lead to 11 points. 

In addition to keeping Air Force off the free throw line, the Falcons did not earn their first attempt until the 12:48 mark of the second half, the Aggies also played stellar defense throughout the entire afternoon as evident by the season-high 28 points scored off 15 Falcon miscues. 

"I am very pleased by our defense, especially in the second half with our physical play and ball pressure, which led to quality chances on offense," said Les. "We were able to shoot 55 percent in the second half because we created great shots off our defense."

Behind its second-half performance, UC Davis shot 50.9 pct. (27-for-53) from the floor compared to Air Force who finished 46.8 pct. (29-for-62). Identical 87.5 free throw percentages were recorded by each team at the stripe - Air Force made 7 of 8 and UC Davis connected on 21 of 24 attempts.

UC Davis will return to action and continue its homestand on Monday, Dec. 30, against Furman.