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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Massive second half effort thwarted by Anteaters


UC Davis men’s basketball team loses in last seconds of televised game against UC Irvine, 62-61

In the two final minutes of the televised ESPN2 game, the entire Pavilion was on its feet chanting, “I believe that we will win!” The UC Davis men’s basketball team was positioned to make an incredible win on home territory after virtually erasing a 17 point deficit near the beginning of the second half. There was not a voice amongst the crowd of 4,573 that didn’t believe it could be done.

Two minutes, however, is a lot of time. The ball changed hands multiple times and the scoreboard switched from a six point lead by the UC Irvine Anteaters to a one point lead by the UC Davis Aggies.

Each basket read 2.1 seconds. No need for the shot clock the Aggies had already won. Or so they thought.

Freshman guard Siler Schneider is no stranger to final game pressures, and he sank a three-point shot and a shorter field goal with seconds left on the clock for a breathtaking one point Aggie lead, working against all odds, including UC Irvine’s 7’6’’ center, Mamadou Ndiaye.

The Pavilion displayed a level of hype that outweighed the rest of the game, until some rumbling in the corner ended with junior guard Lawrence White and an Anteater on the floor, and a sharp whistle nearly shushed spectators whose mouths hung open. A foul was called and just when no one thought 2.1 seconds was enough to change the course of the game, it was. UC Irvine’s Luke Nelson flawlessly drained two, and the one point lead turned into a one point loss.

“They deserve a better result,” head coach Jim Les said. “That’s an awfully good basketball team, but if anything, we’ve proven to ourselves that we can play anyone in this league.”

UC Irvine, now 11-3 in the Big West Conference, only boosted the Aggies motivation. The firepower gained from the televised game will transition onto the court this Thursday when they play Hawai’i in their final regular season game.

Senior forward Josh Fox led the team against the Anteaters alongside junior guard Darius Graham and Schneider, who dominated the court scoring 20, 14 and 14, respectively. Fox was one rebound away from a double-double.

“We talked to [Fox…] about him leading us, physically, mentally [and] emotionally,” Les said. “We couldn’t have had a better leader tonight directing this team and feeding his energy; he made big plays and big shots.”

UC Davis remains the leader in scoring defense and three-point percentage defensively with 64.7 and .304 averaged, according to the Big West Conference statistics.

“These guys have just had the approach of everyday just trying to get better,” Les said. “We’re not looking back, we’re not looking behind at what happens, good or bad, we’re just looking forward and that’s why our practices have been so energetic. They are going to play the best basketball at the end of the season because of their daily approach.”

Following the UC Davis alma mater chanted by a handful of audience members and Band-uh!, the court disassembled, the stands cleared and the Aggies walked away with one of the toughest losses of the season.

“They gave a great crowd a great show,” Les said. “Better days are ahead if we stay on this track.”

Written by Veronica Vargo — sports@theaggie.org


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