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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Long Beach ices UC Davis as they lose two straight at home

Ezra Manjon’s spectacular performance was not enough to keep the Aggies afloat in their loss to The Beach

By MARLON ROLON — sports@theaggie.org

After two straight road games, the UC Davis men’s basketball team hosted a homestand on Jan. 27 and Jan. 29, where they took on Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State at the University Credit Union Center. After losing to Cal State Fullerton, 78-58, on Thursday night, the Aggies dropped a second consecutive home game against Long Beach State.   

UC Davis’ point guard Ezra Manjon poured in 26 points, keeping the Aggies at distance throughout the contest. But, the team’s three point shots were not falling en route to a home loss 70-63 to Big West rival, Long Beach State. 

Manjon scored 10 points in the first half as Davis led for the majority of it. His intensity on the floor energized the Aggies as their defense was superb in the paint. 

“We knew he was going to come out today and play at a high level, that’s just who he is and that’s a sign of a good player,” said Coach Jim Les. 

Coach Les stood by the sideline, arms crossed as he usually does and let Manjon operate the offense. It’s as if he expected his star point guard to come out guns blazing with Manjon running plays, controlling the pace. His teammates set up screens for him and he shot freely.  

Elijah Pepper added 12 points for the Aggies in the first half with two back to back three pointers that revitalized the home crowd. Both teams traded points with one another and Davis led by as many as seven. However, Long Beach kept the home team at bay. 

Towards the end of the first half, the Beach trailed by three points when first-year guard Jadon Jones scored a three pointer off a fast break to tie the game with 35 seconds left on the clock. 

The momentum had swung in favor of Long Beach in which they finished the half shooting 47% from the field and an astonishing 50% from beyond the arc. Davis shot a mere 25% going 3-12 during the first 20 minutes. 

“It’s hard to fault some of the things we were doing cause we were getting some great looks,” said Les. “I know a lot of times, we as coaches want to over analyze and at the end of the day it’s making and missing. We had some good looks with the right guys shooting them.” 

Indeed the momentum shifted in the second half, as Davis’ shooting woes followed them. They went scoreless for the first three minutes and their inconsistencies in transition turned into six turnovers in the half.   

Long Beach relied on their fast break play and quickly established control with a 49-38 lead. They never looked back from that point on.

“They play really fast, a huge component of the game was their transition points. They come at you, they’re going to shoot it, they shoot it quick,” said Les.

Manjon responded to the challenge with his stellar play. Manjon and company trimmed the deficit down to 51-47. Although the Aggies had great looks,they missed many shots that could’ve changed the momentum. 

“He’s upset about the loss, he’s even more upset about his level of play. That’s the kind of competitor he is. That’s the sign of a good player,” said Les about Manjon.

Third-year guard Joel Murray answered every time the Aggies scored, he finished with 19 points. Murray took over the offensive duties making nine straight free throws as he could not be contained in the paint. The Beach pulled away late in the game to steal a game on the road. 

Pepper finished with a double double, 16 points with 10 rebounds and three steals. Meanwhile, Manjon finished with 26 points in 38 minutes. 

The Aggies finished shooting 39% from the field and 16% from the three point line, going 3-18 which was a factor in their loss. Still, Coach Les sounded optimistic about the team moving forward. 

“This group has a great attitude and a really great work ethic and the character of this team is really good,” he said postgame.

“Before it’s all said and done, this is going to be a really good basketball team,” said Les. “We have to focus on, as staff and players, the continuation of getting better and growing as a unit and I think if we do that good things will happen.”

UC Davis fall to 8-7 (1-3 in Big West Conference play) and will travel to Riverside on Tuesday to face off the Highlanders in a Big West Conference game. The Aggies will come back home on Feb. 5 to face off against Hawaii. 

Written by: Marlon Rolon — sports@theaggie.org

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