POSTGAME REACTION: JOE CALLERO
DAVIS, Calif. – Senior guard Dylan Royer (right) scored a career-high 19 points, but UC Davis sophomore guard Corey Hawkins sank a jumper from the right wing on the buzz of the final horn to deliver the Aggies a 69-67 victory against the Cal Poly men's basketball team on Thursday evening inside The Pavilion.
During a game that featured 10 lead changes during the final 14 minutes, Royer was fouled on a three-point attempt with nine seconds to play and Cal Poly trailing, 67-64. Royer coolly sank all three free throws to square the scoreline. The Aggies elected to inbound without taking a timeout and, with two seconds left, UC Davis senior guard Paolo Mancasola had a three-pointer blocked by Cal Poly freshman guard Reese Morgan. Hawkins, however, collected the loose ball and sank the game-winning effort as time expired.
Junior forward Chris Eversley recorded 18 points for Cal Poly (7-7, 3-1) which, despite the loss, retained first place atop the conference standings alongside Hawai'i (9-6, 3-1) and Long Beach State (7-8, 3-1) and matched the 1996-97 Mustang squad for the best start to a Big West campaign in program history. Freshman forward Brian Bennett added 11 points for the Mustangs, who forced UC Davis into 17 turnovers, but allowed the Aggies to shoot 60.5 (26-for-43) percent from the floor.
The Mustangs can still establish a new program record for best start to a Big West schedule when visiting Pacific on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. The Tigers (8-7, 2-1) hammered UC Santa Barbara earlier Thursday, 80-62.
During Thursday's contest, Eversley notched four early field goals and Royer sank two quick three-pointers to provide the Mustangs a commanding 24-8 lead after 10 minutes. UC Davis, forced into seven turnovers inside the opening 12 minutes, trailed for a majority of the first half until mounting a late rally entering the break. Trailing 28-13 with six minutes to play, the Aggies – who shot 65.0 (13-for-20) percent from the floor during the first half – closed the opening period with an 18-9 run.
UC Davis continued rolling into the second half as junior guard Ryan Sypkens – fifth among Division I players with a 50.0 percent three-point mark – buried a three-pointer before Olivier Paul-Betu scooped in a lay-up to help the Aggies close to within one point of the Mustang lead one minute into the final period.
UC Davis, which scored on five of its first six possessions during the second half and opened the period with a 13-3 run, eventually utilized an J.T. Adenrele layup and free throw to overtake Cal Poly at 39-38 with 17 minutes to play.
The Aggies, however, could only parlay their lead into a pair of four-point advantages. Trailing 44-40 with 15-and-a-half minutes remaining, Cal Poly held UC Davis without a field goal for the ensuing four minutes and, courtesy of two free throws from junior guard Jamal Johnson and a Royer three-pointer, the Mustangs grabbed a brief 45-44 advantage with 14-and-a-half minutes to play.
The Mustangs and Aggies then traded the lead eight times during the next seven minutes with Cal Poly finally wrangling a 64-59 advantage at the four-minute mark courtesy of a Morgan three-pointer.
The Mustangs, however, were limited to just three Royer free throws the remainder of the night as the Aggies grabbed a 65-64 lead on a Hawkins layup before junior forward Josh Ritchart extended the UC Davis lead to three points with a pair of free throws with nine seconds on the clock.