UC Davis’ Defense, Timely Baskets Lead To 66-57 Victory
DAVIS, Calif. — Leading by two with 90 seconds remaining in Saturday’s
non-conference game at the Pavilion, Matt Neufeld was fouled on a dunk, and
made the ensuing free throw to push UC Davis’ lead to 60-55. That three-point
play, combined with NIU’s inability to
make a basket for final 1:43 of the game due to the Aggies’ defense — the
Huskies’ only points during that timespan were scored at the line — led
to a 66-57 UC Davis victory.
Returning home after a month-long eight-game road swing, the Aggies will enter their Finals Week hiatus with a 4-7 record. Northern Illinois will return home with a 6-4 record.
UC Davis led 36-34 at halftime, and extended that lead to a nine-point margin thanks to a 13-6 run that covered the first 10 minutes of the second half.
The Huskies were able to trim that deficit to five throughout the next two minutes of action, but the Aggies’ trademark defense bumped their lead to 10 with 5:14 remaining. An 8-0 scoring run pulled NIU within two until Neufeld’s and-one ended all momentum created by the Huskies’ scoring run, and jump-started UC Davis’ final scoring surge of the night.
That play started a game-ending 7-2 run for the Aggies. On one end of the floor, UC Davis did not allow NIU to create a clean look, let alone a quality opportunity to record a field goal for the rest of the night. On the other end of the court, it connected on seven of their final nine free throws to earn another home victory.
Northern Illinois never possessed a lead at any point of Saturday’s game, and the Aggies’ defense was a key reason why. Held to 29 pct. shooting from the floor in the second half, the Huskies fared no better from three since they only hit 2 of 16 attempts (13 pct.) from distance after halftime.
Led by Stefan Gonzalez’ 11, the Aggies’ bench outscored their counterparts 22-18. The senior guard was one of UC Davis’ two double-digit scorers as Joe Mooney continued his stellar play by scoring a game-high 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
UC Davis led for all but 1:41 of their second home game of the season.
Off for the week due to final exams, the Aggies will seek their third win in a row when they head to San Diego on Dec. 14 for the first of three straight games against West Coast Conference opposition. After UC Davis returns to the Pavilion to host Loyola Marymount on Dec. 16, it will head to San Francisco five days later for its final pre-Christmas contest.