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UC Davis Falls To Hawai’i After Late Push

(Photo by Joshua Lavallee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

DAVIS, Calif. – Senior communication major TJ Shorts II led all players in Thursday’s Big West Conference contest at the Pavilion with 26 points, earning 11 at the line to post his sixth 20-point game of the season, junior communication major Matt Neufeld scored 12, junior economics major Joe Mooney and senior communication major Siler Schneider added 11 and 10 in the Aggies penultimate game of the regular season.

Down by four, Mooney’s layup in the paint, hit after spinning around two Rainbow Warriors, pulled UC Davis within two with 95 seconds still left to play. But Hawai’i answered the Aggies’ late push by hitting six straight free throws to pull away and earn a 76-69 victory.

UC Davis will enter Saturday’s 5 p.m. season finale vs. UC Riverside with an 11-18 overall and 7-8 Big West record. Hawai’i will head to Cal State Fullerton for its final regular season game with records of 17-12 and 8-7.

Men’s basketball fans are encouraged to arrive to the Pavilion early on Saturday to honor the Aggies’ five-member senior class, a group of student-athletes the program will recognize in a pregame ceremony approximately 15 minutes before tipoff. Since UC Davis women’s basketball is also competing in its final regular season game on Hamilton Court this weekend, one ticket is valid for both home events.

In the first half of their game against the Rainbow Warriors, the Aggies’ defense shined, and held the Rainbow Warriors to 25 points; no visiting player entered the locker room with more than five points to his credit. UC Davis forced eight turnovers, which led to 12 points on the opposite end of the court, held UH to 36 percent shooting and a 27 percent clip from three.

Of the Aggies’ 14 field goals recorded in the first half, assists were earned on 10 of their shots.

After halftime, the ‘Bows caught fire and erased a 16-point Aggie advantage — one they built on a 16-2 run midway through the first half and another 6-0 outburst before halftime — with a 16-2 run of their own to take the lead.

By scoring another eight straight, UH led by seven with just under seven minutes remaining until the Aggies’ defense set the stage for their late-game comeback.

Following a pair of free throws from Shorts II, he was fouled on the ensuing possession after an Aggie rebound jump-started a fast-break opportunity. Another pair of free throws from the reigning Big West Player of the Year pulled his team within a one-possession margin; another free throw from Mooney trimmed Hawai’i’s lead to two.

A jumper from Brock Stepteau doubled his team’s advantage, until Mooney responded with that spinning layup moments later to bring the Aggies back within two.

Stepteau led four double-digit Rainbow Warrior scorers with 17 points, followed by Eddie Stansberry (12 points), Drew Buggs (11) and Leland Green (10).