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LAS VEGAS - Down by six in Saturday’s bracket championship game at the Orleans Arena, senior communication major Michael Onyebalu tied the game at 50-50, then gave his team a one-point lead by connecting on his second straight made free throw with 2:34 remaining.
Held scoreless for a total of 5:05 throughout the Aggies’ comeback, Radford experienced firsthand why UC Davis is know for its defense by making only one of 11 shote from the floor, until the Highlander’s Donald Hicks hit a fadeaway three-pointer right in front of its bench, to even the score at 55 through regulation.
But during overtime, Radford hit all 13 shots at the free throw line — they connected on only 5 of 12 attempts throughout regulation — to collect a 72-62 win over UC Davis in the first head-to-head meeting since Dec. 2, 1967, in each team's final game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.
UC Davis will enter the holiday break with an 8-5 record and host Holy Names on the 30th in its final tune-up before league play begins at home on Jan. 4. Radford will return home with a 7-6 record.
Senior communication major Chima Moneke notched his eighth double-double of the season on a team-high 19 points and game-high 10 rebounds. Junior communication major TJ Shorts II enjoyed another phenomenal all-around game by scoring 16 points — he hit 8 of 11 free throw attempts — recording a career-high five of the Aggies’ nine steals and four of the team’s seven assists.
Shorts II led all players with his assists and steals totals.
Trailing 50-44, junior psychology major AJ John pulled the Aggies within four when he hit each of his free throws, which was followed by a Shorts II layup 28 seconds later to turn Radford’s lead into a one-possession margin. Before Onyebalu hit his two free throws, Moneke connected on one of his own to help UC Davis erase Radford’s late lead, and eventually hold an advantage of its own until Radford connected on that off-balanced three.
“They made a tough shot, I cannot fault anyone because [Radford] made a heck of a play,” said head coach Jim Les.
Earlier in the game, the Aggies trailed by as many as nine, but ended the first half trailing by only one basket thanks to a pair of threes from sophomore economics major Joe Mooney and another five bench points from senior American Studies major Arell Hennings.
The Highlanders’ three-point halftime lead disappeared three minutes into the second half when the Aggies outscored them 6-2 thanks to a Moneke jumper, another two free throws form the senior forward and a layup from Shorts II.
RADFORD 72, UC DAVIS 62 (OT)
UC DAVIS (8-4)
Moneke, Chima 6-14 6-9 19; Shorts II, TJ 4-9 8-11 16; Schneider, Siler 4-16 0-0 8; Mooney, Joe 2-5 0-0 6; Onyebalu, Michael 1-2 4-4 6; Hennings, Arell 1-2 3-3 5; John, AJ 0-2 2-2 2; Jackson, Delveion 0-0 0-0 0; Printup, Rogers 0-2 0-0 0; Russell, Colin 0-0 0-1 0; Goode, Garrison 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-54
POLITE JR, Ed 8-13 8-10 24; JONES, Carlik 3-8 4-5 10; PHILLIPS, Randy 3-5 1-3 7; TANNER, Caleb 2-4 0-0 6; HICKS, Donald 2-8 0-0 6; FIELDS JR, Travis 1-5 4-5 6; BRADFORD, Christian 2-2 0-0 5; HOLLAND, Devonnte 1-2 1-2 3; COUSIN, Justin 1-2 0-0 3; BUTTS IV, Leroy 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 24-54 18-25 72.
UC Davis...................... 29 26 7 - 62
Radford....................... 32 23 17 - 72
3-point goals--UC Davis 3-15 (Mooney, Joe 2-4; Moneke, Chima 1-1; Schneider, Siler 0-3; Onyebalu, Michael 0-1; Hennings, Arell 0-1; John, AJ 0-2; Printup, Rogers 0-2; Shorts II, TJ 0-1), Radford 6-18 (TANNER, Caleb 2-3; HICKS, Donald 2-5; COUSIN, Justin 1-1; BRADFORD, Christian 1-1; BUTTS IV,
Leroy 0-1; FIELDS JR, Travis 0-1; JONES, Carlik 0-4; POLITE JR, Ed 0-2). Fouled out--UC Davis-Moneke, Chima; Onyebalu, Michael, Radford-None. Rebounds--UC Davis 33 (Moneke, Chima 10), Radford 40 (JONES, Carlik 7). Assists--UC Davis 7 (Shorts II, TJ 4), Radford 9 (FIELDS JR, Travis 3;
BRADFORD, Christian 3). Total fouls--UC Davis 23, Radford 22. Technical fouls--UC Davis-None, Radford-PHILLIPS, Randy.
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