Dec. 22, 2011
CEDAR CITY, Utah -
Southern Utah outscored UC Davis 14-7 over the final four minutes of the game, extending a close lead on its way to a 62-51 hard-fought nonconference men's basketball win at Centrum Arena on Thursday night.
The loss sends the Aggies into their Big West Conference opener at Cal State Fullerton next week with a 1-10 mark. Guard Tyler Les paced UC Davis in scoring for the second straight game, finishing with 12 points while freshman forward J.T. Adenrele finished with 10.
Ramell Taylor scored 17 points - 15 of them in the first half - leading four Thunderbirds in double figures. Center Matt Massey had 14 points, guard Damon Heuir added 11 and forward Jackson Stevenett had 10.
The Thunderbirds snapped a four-game losing streak, improving to 5-6.
The Aggies played Southern Utah tough throughout the game, staying within striking distance until the game's final couple of minutes. They trailed 48-39 with 6 minutes, 36 seconds remaining but Les hit a jumper in the lane to start five straight points for UC Davis that made it 48-44 with four minutes left.
However, Stevenett made a pair of free throws - Southern Utah was 12 for 14 from the line down the stretch - and the Thunderbirds scored the next five points to rebuild the lead to 53-44 before finishing off their second win over the Aggies this season.
"There were a couple of positives from tonight," said Aggie coach Jim Les. "We held them to 43 percent (shooting), we forced 17 turnovers, we did some good things with our pressure and we gave ourselves a chance on the road, and that's a step in the right direction.
"Nobody wants to win more than I do and nobody likes the results," he added. "But at this point we've got to search and look for positives and there were a lot of positives."
UC Davis shot 50 percent from the field in the first half but never led over the first 20 minutes. It trailed by as many as eight points - that coming 14-6 with 13 minutes left in the half - but later scored six straight points to tie the game 19-19 with 8:47 left.
rattled in a straightaway trey while Paolo Mancasola
drove the left baseline and was fouled to complete a three-point play, keying that Aggie surge.
Taylor and Massey were the primary offensive weapons for Southern Utah in the first half, combining to score the Thunderbirds' first 16 points. Taylor hit 6 of 9 from the field and had 15 points while Massey scored 10 points.
Taylor's three-point play late in the half gave Southern Utah a 26-19 lead while Les countered with his second trey to help close the gap which eventually whittled to 32-26 at the half.
Les had eight points in the opening half while Adam Malik came off the bench to score four. Seven Aggies scored over the first 20 minutes.
UC Davis got to within four points two times in the early moments of the second half and then went down by eight points on four occasions over the next 10 minutes. But they also got as close as five points before Julian Scott and Heuir each scored to make it 48-39, leading to the Aggies' final rally which was eventually countered.
The Aggies held Southern Utah to 43.2 percent from the field. They put a strong defensive effort in the second half, holding the Thunderbirds to just 8-of-24 (.333) shooting after they made 55 percent of their attempts in the first half. UC Davis committed a season-high 22 turnovers.
The Aggies shot 43.6 percent for the game and made 13 of 18 from the line. Southern Utah was 23 of 28 from the charity stripe.
Adenrele added a team-high five rebounds and two blocks while Malik also had a pair of blocks. Les, who had a school-record tying eight three-pointers in Tuesday's loss at San Jose State, had two more on Thursday.
The Aggies will finish their five-game roadtrip next Thursday, traveling to face Cal State Fullerton at Titan Gym.