Graduate Guard Ar’mond Davis put the clamps on the UC Davis Aggies with a 23-point, 8-rebound night, and the UCSB men’s basketball team prevailed 69-58 in its sixth consecutive win to secure sole first place in the Big West.
The Gauchos improved to 3-0 in conference play as they held the Aggies to their lowest scoring performance since they were kept to just 55 points against USC in late December. Following a berth into the College Insider Mid-Major Top-25 poll, the Gauchos continued their Big West dominance to hand Davis its third straight loss and drop the Aggies to 0-3 in Big West play.
While Ar’mond Davis impressively went 5-7 from deep en route to his prolific near double-double performance, the Gauchos as a whole shot 45.8% from beyond the arc. They held the Ags to just 27% on threes despite UC Davis shooting more efficiently from the field than SB.
Reigning Big West Conference MVP TJ Shorts II posted 11 points for the Aggies on 5-11 shooting while dragging down a team-high five boards in the process, but when a 5-foot-9 point guard is the team’s leading rebounding, it’s certainly apparent why Davis has been struggling this year.
The Gauchos out-rebounded UC Davis 37-21– a monstrous 16-rebound differential made possible by 12 offensive boards from UCSB which led to 12 second chance points on the offensive end.
Although the Aggies attack came out firing with a 10-0 run to open up the game, the Gauchos fired back with a triple from junior guard Max Heidegger to get SB on the board.
“The first four-minute war, we were down 10-0. I felt like I was back at Washington,” joked Pasternack. “I better change my pregame speech and my half time speech.”
Heidegger quarterbacked a 14-4 stretch for UCSB after freshman guard Sekou Toure muscled into the paint for consecutive offensive rebounds and dipped it back to a wide-open Jay Nagle, and the three-point specialist struck again to tie it up at 14 with a trey on the right wing.
Nagle had eight points in the first half while shooting 3-4 from the field and 2-3 behind the perimeter as he added the final five points of the half for the Gauchos.
UC Davis pulled back ahead with a pair of free-throws, but Ar’mond Davis answered right back with his first three of the game which came unassisted as shook his defender in isolation at the top of the arc and fired from deep to put SB on top 17-16.
To close out the half, Santa Barbara posted 26 points with big threes from four separate Gauchos to lead 43-31 at the break. After one, there were six Gauchos that had notched five or more points with Armond Davis leading the way scoring 10 points in 14 minutes.
Out of the break, the Ags weren’t done yet. Davis went on a 14-5 run to open the half on a strong note once again led by junior guard Joe Mooney who carried out a 3-point play when he cut through defenders, drew contact, and finished at the rack to cut the deficit to just three at 48-45.
That was the closest the Aggies would be to a comeback as Ar’mond Davis took over with 13 points in the second half with a triad of triples to balloon the lead to 64-54 with 3:53 to play.
“I really challenged Ar’mond Davis about offensive rebounding last night and I think he was a monster,” said Head Coach Joe Pasternack. “Four offensive rebounds and he was a complete player…to get a victory like this on the road, this is amazing.”
UCSB is off for a week off following its sixth straight victory, but has a big week ahead as it remains on a 3-game road trip with games at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach next Thursday and Saturday respectively.