Of the game-high 16 points scored by Ezra Manjon in Thursday’s Big West Championship quarterfinal against CSU Bakersfield, it was his reverse layup, scored with one second remaining, that lifted UC Davis to a 58-56 victory and a berth in Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against UC Santa Barbara at the Air Force Reserve Men’s Basketball Championship, presented by the Hawaiian Islands.
Thursday’s thriller is the Aggies’ seventh victory in their last eight played, which improved their overall record to 10-7. The Roadrunners end their season at 15-11.
In a game that remained within a one-possession margin, for the final 4 minutes, 36 seconds, free throws from Manjon and Elijah Pepper gave the Aggies a two-point lead with two minutes remaining.
Following a jumper from Czar Perry, which tied the game at 54-54, Damion Squire beat his defender at the free throw line and drove hard to the basket, which helped UC Davis regain a two-lead with 30 seconds left to play.
This back-and-forth battle against CSU Bakersfield continued when Taze Moore’s jumper created the game’s fifth tied score, and gave the Aggies the final possession with 20 seconds on the clock.
Instead of taking a timeout, head coach Jim Les let his players decide the ultimate outcome on the final Aggie possession in regulation — a choice that ended with Manjon’s clutch driving layup that forced the Roadrunners to launch a desperation full-court heave that hit the floor as the buzzer sounded.
Known for its defense and free-throw shooting — the Aggies are the No. 1 team in the league at the line, and have been throughout the last two seasons — both played a key role throughout Thursday’s quarterfinal.
During one portion of the game, UC Davis forced six Roadrunner turnovers, within a four-minute timespan — a block of action that was highlighted by Ade Adebayo’s suffocating defense, which forced an errant pass and blocked shots on a pair of CSUB possessions moments later.
Seventeen of the Aggies’ points were scored off CSU Bakersfield’s 18 turnovers.
In addition to hitting half of their 46 shots from the floor, the Aggies also scored another 10 points out of their 12 trips to the stripe.
UC Davis basketball fans can watch Friday’s semifinal by visiting https://es.pn/3evAxMN or by catching Scott Marsh’s broadcast at 1140 AM.
Davis women in semifinals today
Clinching a semifinal berth for the seventh consecutive season, the top-seeded UC Davis women’s basketball team takes on No. 5-seeded Hawai’i in the first semifinal game of the 2021 Air Force Reserve Big West Women’s Basketball Championships, presented by The Hawaiian Islands, on Friday (March 12) at noon at Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.
Fans can watch at https://es.pn/3viuZuT or by visiting KDVS 90.3 FM on the radio.