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Friday, April 19, 2024

Davis duo leads Aggies to electric 75-63 victory over Hawaii

UC Davis men’s basketball triumphs on Senior Night


By EMMÍA J RIVERA — sports@theaggie.org 


In the last home game of the regular season, the UC Davis men’s basketball team tipped their hats to five seniors as they faced the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Feb. 29 at the University Credit Union Center. Prior to the match, fourth-year Elijah Pepper, third-year Niko Rocak, fifth-year Ade Adebayo, fifth-year Kane Milling and fifth-year Sam Manu were given a standing ovation for their work on the court. 

Throughout the game, standout performances from Pepper and third-year Ty Johnson led the Aggies to victory. Together, Johnson and Pepper make up one of the best backcourts in the Big West Conference. Additionally, the pair have led the Aggie offense and proved their skill against Hawaii. With 30 points apiece, the renowned Davis duo continues to conduct with authority.

Following a tough 17-point loss in their first match-up against Hawaii, the Aggies were hungry for redemption. Courtesy of three consecutive steals and back-to-back baskets, Davis set the tone early in the first half with an 8-0 lead. However, the Rainbow Warriors were prepared and responded with four three-pointers and stronger defensive blocks, making the game intensify. The leading score for the Aggies was cut to an astounding 38-32 just before halftime.

In the final half on the Aggies’ home court, Davis regained poise and stretched their lead to 75-63. The Rainbow Warriors were unable to summon a comeback, giving the Aggies their 12th win of the season.

On top of the vast recognition Elijah Pepper has earned as an Aggie, this season he joined a new group of athletes as he became the new all-time leading scorer for UC Davis. Elijah Pepper, having previously broken a record held for 44 years, has only a few games left to continue making history on the UC Davis court. 

For his fourth year, Pepper holds an average of 20.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Johnson, another lead guard, has also been a staple to the team’s success with 17.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest. As a stellar player from the mid-range, Johnson went 11 for 16 from the field and shot perfectly from the free-throw line, sinking all seven of his attempts. Additionally, he tallied three rebounds and two steals in the game against Hawaii. 

Concurrently, in the match against Hawaii, Pepper scored 10 points from the charity line and 20 beyond it, including a huge 4-point play with five minutes left in the game. Due to being solid on both ends of the court, the Aggies held their lead throughout the entire game. Defense frequently became offense, forcing 16 turnovers and converting them into 22 points.

Hawaii was led by Bernardo Da Silva, who put up 20 points with five rebounds and two assists. The Rainbow Warriors provided an overdue second-half push, but it wasn’t enough to surpass the effort of the Aggies. Yet again, the Aggies moved up in the league as they now hold a 12-6 record and third place in Big West Conference play.

With the season coming to an end, the Aggies look to finish on a high note before the annual conference tournament set for March 13 at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada.

Until then, Davis will face UC San Diego on March 7 at 7 p.m., followed by the regular season finale at CSU Long Beach on March 9 at 3 p.m. Depending on the outcomes, wins or losses could determine how teams will be seeded in the Big West Conference tournament.

Written by: Emmía J Rivera — sports@theaggie.org


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