Shorts buzzer-beater wins close game by one point


UC Davis Aggies down Highlanders 64-63 with 7 seconds on the clock

In an otherwise uneventful matchup between the UC Davis men’s basketball team and UC Riverside, the last few moments of the game got the fans on their feet, when junior guard TJ Shorts II made a powerful drive to the basket with 7 seconds left. Shorts’ layup brought the final score to 64-63.  

Both the Aggies and the Highlanders were plagued with whistles, fouls and free throws. At one point in the game, seven minutes passed before a field goal was attempted.

With senior forward Chima Moneke still suspended indefinitely, Saturday’s line-up featured an interesting match-up between 5’8” senior guard Arell Hennings and 5’9” Shorts and the Highlander’s 6’10” senior forward Alex Larsson, who hails from Södertälje, Sweden and 7’0” junior center Menn Dijkstra from Standdaarbuiten, Netherlands.

UC Davis took the lead in the first few minutes of the game and kept its lead. The first half saw moments of strong defense. At half-time, the Aggies lead the Highlanders 33-23. The Highlanders attempted to get one last lay-up in at the buzzer, but it was counted as a basket interference and the Aggies kept their double-digit lead.

The Aggies’s lead slowly withered away throughout the second half. With 11 minutes left on the clock, the Highlanders were trailing by eight points.

“[Riverside] got into a rhythm and they really got us back on our heels,” said head coach Jim Les. “They were driving the ball, getting to the free-throw line and they were able to stop the clock and pick up some points.”

After the 16th foul shot of the second half, it was looking like a one-point game. Junior forward AJ John’s trey and junior guard Siler Schneider’s foul shots increased the lead once again.

With only 1:40 left on the clock, the Highlanders caught up to the Aggies and tied the score. Finally, the slow game filled with free-throws and the sound of the referee’s foul whistle would see some excitement. Short’s free throws allowed the Aggies to take the lead again.

With a strong Aggie defense, UC Riverside couldn’t manage to get the ball in the basket, but the Highlanders used Schneider missing a three-pointer to their advantage. The Highlanders took the rebound and Dijkstra stunned the defense with a three-point shot, bringing the the score to 63-62.

With just over 7 seconds left, a timeout was called. Once back on the court, Shorts stole the show, driving the ball the ball to the basket for a game-winning buzzer beater.

Shorts’ shot left only 0.9 seconds for Dijkstra to attempt a half-court shot and the Aggies walked out of the Pavilion victorious, with a final score of 64-63.

Shorts finished the night with 16 points and five rebounds. This is the second game this season that Shorts has won the game for the Aggies, the first being in double overtime against Long Beach State on Feb. 3.

“Like last time […] we had about 6 seconds and I knew I could get the length of the court,” Shorts said. “So coach wrote another good play, I caught the ball, saw an angle I could get a bucket in and it went down for us.”

Shorts executed the coaching staffs’ “Plan A, B, and C” to a tee.

“TJ is really separating himself as a special player,” Les said. “There aren’t too many guys who go through a career and have two game winners, especially in the league season with the amount of importance that’s on these games. For him to do it twice within a month, […] he’s a heck of a player and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him, which I think is really unique and special.”

The UC Davis men’s basketball team still has a chance at the Big West title. The Aggies are currently trailing UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara with a conference record of 10-4. The Aggies return to the Pavilion Thursday March 1 for their final home game against Hawaii and travel south for their final regular season game against UC Irvine on March 3.


Written by: Liz Jacobson —