The UC Davis men’s success at home and against rival Cal Poly continued on Saturday night at the Pavilion as the Aggies turned in a huge defensive performance to defeat the Mustangs 66-52 in a Big West Conference game in front of an announced crowd of 1,637.
UCD junior post Neal Monson had a Division I career-high 20 points, senior forward Josh Fox added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and junior guard Brynton Lemar had 15 points and five rebounds as the Aggies (9-11, 4-3) beat Cal Poly (8-12, 2-5) for the fifth consecutive time and won their 12th straight conference game at home. Senior guard David Nwaba led Cal Poly with 15 points and six rebounds.
But the Aggies credited their defensive tenacity against a team that came in averaging 76.3 points, second best in the conference. UC Davis limited Cal Poly to 11 points fewer than its previous season low as the Mustangs went scoreless in the final four minutes.
“I thought the key was the second-half defense,” said UCD coach Jim Les. “We held them to 37 percent from the floor, 11 percent from three, and I thought we came up with all the 50-50 loose balls and big rebounds.”
UC Davis outshot Cal Poly 45.6 to 43.1 percent, outrebounded the Mustangs 35-26 and had a season-low six turnovers. The Aggies led for all but seven seconds.
Monson shot 9 of 14 from the floor and grabbed four rebounds.
The 6-foot-10 Monson is known more for his rebounding – he is the conference leader at 8.5 per game – but his offense stood out Saturday. He was 9 of 14 from the floor and 2 of 2 from the foul line. He also had four rebounds. Monson had a 20-point performance earlier this season against Division II Holy Names.
“I just try to go in and rebound and play good defense,” said Monson, who had 14 first-half points. “But I made my first couple, and then when the ball goes in your favor, you feel good.”
Fox, who had the fourth double double of his career, all this season, called the matchup a “backyard fight” between two teams that don’t like each other much. He credited Les and the coaching staff for having a good game plan against the Mustangs.
“We know their tendencies, we play each other a lot,” Fox said. “It’s a big one for us, especially because we know how tough of a team that they are.”
Eastern Washington 74, Sacramento State 67 in Cheney, Wash. – The Hornets ended the game on a 23-13 run but suffered their third loss in four games.
Sac State trailed 70-67 on Marcus Graves’ layup with 17 seconds left. But the Eagles then made four free throws, and the Hornets missed two three-point attempts to seal the outcome.
Eastern Washington (11-10, 5-4 Big Sky Conference) made only 1 of 20 three-point attempts but had a 50-32 advantage in points in the paint. The Eagles’ Venky Jois dominated inside with 24 points.
Graves led Sac State (9-10, 2-6) with 19 points.
UC Davis 80, UC Santa Barbara 51 at the Pavilion – The Aggies shot 70 percent from the field in jumping to a 26-point first-half lead and coasted to a Big West win over the Gauchos in the first game of a doubleheader.
Sophomore forward Pele Gianotti had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and added five rebounds, three steals and three assists, and senior forward Celia Marfone had 17 points, four rebounds and two assists as the Aggies (12-8, 5-2) avenged a 66-59 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 21.
Former St. Mary’s High of Stockton standout Onome Jemerigbe, a junior guard, led Santa Barbara (7-14, 4-3) with 15 points.
The Aggies opened the game by making their first five shots, including three three-pointers, and shot 19 of 27 in the first half. UCD, which led by as many as 33 points early in the fourth quarter, shot 59.3 percent (32 of 54) from the field, including 52.9 percent (9 of 17) from three-point range while holding the Gauchos to 31.1 percent (19 of 61).
“The fact that we did shoot such a great percentage, we gave ourselves a nice cushion at halftime.” said UCD coach Jennifer Gross. “But I was most impressed with our defensive consistency throughout the game.”
Aggies had 22 assists and forced Santa Barbara into 17 turnovers.
The second-place Aggies will play Thursday at Big West-leading UC Riverside (13-7, 6-0).
Eastern Washington 100, Sac State 83 at the Nest – Trailing by one at halftime, the Hornets missed their first 10 shots of the third quarter while being outscored 15-0 and didn’t come closer than eight thereafter.
The Eagles (14-7, 8-1 Big Sky) shot 56.2 percent (41 of 73). The Hornets (7-12, 4-4) shot 37.8 percent (31 of 82). Sac State also made only 11 of 41 three-point attempts (26.8 percent).
Adella Randle-El led the Hornets with 17 points, eight assists and seven steals.