Aggies make major comeback, come up short in final home game

Aggies make major comeback, come up short in final home game

Photo Credits: JUSTIN HAN / AGGIE

Scoring 15 points in the last two minutes, the Aggies couldn’t finish defensively

In their last game of the 2018-19 season, the UC Davis Aggies were defeated by the UC Riverside Highlanders 71-70 at home on Saturday night. Prior to the game, the Aggies sported an 11-18 overall and a 7-8 conference record, compared to the Highlanders’ 9-22 overall and 3-12 conference record.

Heading into the matchup, UC davis sat in the seventh seed in the Big West Conference, hoping to secure one last win before the upcoming Big West Tournament. Prior to tipoff, the Aggies honored the five graduating seniors stepping onto their home court for the last time: guards Siler Schneider and TJ Shorts II, and forwards Colin Russell, AJ John and Garrison Goode.

Looking to get their flow back on the offensive and defensive end from previous games, the Aggies seemed to click in the first half, connecting their passes together and moving the ball around the perimeter. In total, UC Davis shot 50 percent from the field and 33 percent from the three-point line. But even with their impressive ball movement and good shooting percentage, the Aggies found themselves down 38-28 at the half.

Displaying bursts of speed and agility driving to the rim, Shorts II led the team with eight points, two rebounds and one assist in 16 minutes of play.

In the second half, UC Davis began to show bursts of aggression on the court, starting with a 13-4 run in the first nine minutes. UC Riverside responded by stepping up its game as well, doing just enough to remain slightly ahead of the Aggies and, at times, even continued to add to their lead.

With two minutes left in the game, the Aggies found themselves down by 12, and it seemed as if UC Davis would not be able to surface with a win.

A 15-2 run led by Shorts II and junior guard Joe Mooney, however, gave the Aggies a one-point lead with eight seconds left on the clock — after Mooney nailed a quick three off a Riverside turnover that set the Pavilion into pandemonium..

But with just three seconds remaining in the game, the Highlanders had one more chance to retake the lead with an inbound on their own end. An inside pass to the Highlanders center allowed for an easy layup before time expired, putting the Aggies down for good with a 71-70 loss.

On the offensive side, Mooney and Shorts II were the stars for the Aggies with 19 and 18 points respectively, each putting up six assists and three rebounds.

“I told the guys it was just a little too late to show that fight,” said Head Coach Jim Les. “I thought for the majority of the game we were pretty soft defensively and gave up some big numbers. Our aggressiveness was intermittent at best and there were a lot of possessions that lost us that game. I love the fight and we have it in us but we can’t wait until we are desperate to show that fight.”

With the regular season in the rearview mirror, next for UC Davis is a trip to the Honda Center in Anaheim for the Big West Tournament. The sixth seeded Aggies will face off against third seeded Cal State Fullerton in the quarterfinals, tipping off this afternoon.

“It’s a mindset and an aggressive mentality,” Les said, discussing what the team will need going into the tournament. “It’s not that we can’t do it because we have proven we can we have to do it and sustain it and get it from multiple people. We are just not getting it as a group together. We have to get production from six or seven guys not just one or two, and we haven’t gotten to that yet and that hurts us. Our system is not going to change but we have to do it a lot better and have more consistency.”

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org