Max Heidegger scored 17 points and made a pair of huge three-point basket after UC Davis had taken a 44-43 advantage, propelling UC Santa Barbara to a 70-56 win on Saturday night.
With the win, the Gauchos (18-9 overall, 7-5 Big West) stake claim to second-place by themselves in the Big West Conference. The Aggies (13-16, 7-6) drop to third-place.
“UC Davis is one of the best coached teams in our league,” said head coach Joe Pasternack. “They play tough, hard and always make adjustments. This is a good win for us because of how well they (the Aggies) are coached.”
Davis jumped out to a 14-6 lead on a pair of free throws by Damion Squire with 12:54 remaining in the first half. A three-pointer by JaQuori McLaughin narrowed the edge to 14-9, and then a basket by Amadou Sow closed the gap to 14-11 at the 11:41 mark.
The teams sparred over the next several minutes, but UCSB used an 18-2 run to claim a 31-21 lead with 2:30 to play in the first half. During the decisive stretch, Deveral Ramsey made a pair of three-point baskets and scored eight points.
Joe Mooney, a senior for Davis, made a layup and a three-pointer at the end of the half to draw his team back within 31-26 by halftime.
The Gauchos made the first basket out of the gates in the second half as Sow hit a short jumper in the center of the key, but Davis responded with a jump shot in the lane by Kennedy Koehler. A layup and then a jumper by Elijah Pepper carved the advantage to 33-32 at the 16:25 mark.
The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes with UCSB’s lead never getting higher than six points. Stefan Gonzalez, who leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage, drained long three with 12:11 to play, pulling the Aggies to within 43-42. Following a stop, Damion Squire made a layup on the paint to give his team 44-43 lead.
Heidegger responded with a long three-point basket from above the key, giving UCSB a 46-44 lead. After a miss on the other end, McLauighlin made an acrobatic layup, extending the lead to 48-44 at the 9:40 mark. Pepper missed his next shot for Davis, Sow rebounded, got the ball the McLaiughin who found Sow again for a layup, making it a 50-44 score.
The teams continued to battle. Ezra Majon hit a short jumper, making the score 51-48 with 8:08 to play. McLaughlin responded with a three-pointer, making the score 54-48 at the 7:26 mark. Majon then made a pair of free throws at 6:58, drawing his team to within 54-50 with 6:58 remaining in the game.
Back-to-back baskets by Sow and a layup by Heidegger stretched the lead to 60-50 with 5:39 to play. Davis scrapped back to within 60-56 when Koehler scored six straight points, but then the Gauchos closed the game on a 10-0 run to produce a 70-56 victory.
“Devearl was amazing defensively tonight,” Pasternack said. “He’s stopped Stansberry (Hawaii’s guard) and he puts the locks on all of the best backcourt players that we see. Tonight he was great against Ezra (Manjon). He had a great game offensively, but it was on defense that he helped decide this game.”
Manjon scored 20 points in the first meeting between the schools on Feb. 13. On Saturday, he was 2-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. He finished with six point, two rebounds and three assists.
Heidegger had four assists, two rebounds and just one turnover. Sow had 16 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Ramsey had 13 points, seven rebounds and an assist.
Brandon Cyrus had just four points in the game, but he added a career-high eight rebounds and did an amazing job on the Aggie backcourt players. Robinson Idehen had eight points, five rebounds and a blocked shot. McLaughlin added seven assists and just two turnovers for UCSB.
The Gauchos will travel for a pair of games next weekend. On Thursday, they will face UC Riverside in an 8:00 p.m. game and on Saturday they take on UC Irvine at 7:00 p.m. Both of next week’s game will be carried on ESPN3.