Ezra Manjon finished with a game-high 19 points in Friday’s Big West Conference game at the Pavilion, but it was the last two, scored with 1.2 seconds remaining that lifted UC Davis to a 68-66 victory over Long Beach State.
That layup pushed the Aggies’ record to 5-6 overall and 2-3 in league play, extended their current head-to-head win streak to four games and home win streak against the Beach to five. Long Beach State will enter Saturday’s 1 p.m. series finale with records of 3-6 and 2-3.
UC Davis basketball fans can watch tomorrow’s contest on BigWest.TV or listen to Scott Marsh’s call on Sports 1140 KHTK.
Down by three, LBSU pulled even at 66 apiece when Colin Slater converted a three-point play to tie the score with 20 seconds left on the clock. Instead of calling timeout, UC Davis head coach Jim Les chose to let play resume and called out his play of choice as Manjon dribbled the ball down to the Aggies’ half of the court.
Once Kennedy Koehler ran toward his teammate to begin the play, Manjon was immediately presented with multiple options.
“After the high pick-and-roll, I wanted to play off (LBSU’s) decision and see what they gave me. They ended up switching, and I knew there was going to be a mismatch. I saw the big man on me and just thought about attacking him, getting through the lane and finishing,” said Manjon.
Once the ball left his hand, Manjon said, “I was pretty confident it was going in, but I did not expect it to hang that long on the rim.”
“We wanted to play in ‘attack mode’, the timing of everything worked out,” said Les. “We have some actions we turn to late in the game that we are confident with, which gives us a chance to not allow the defense to change its lineup or make substitutions.
“I thought Kennedy set a great screen, they switched off it, and Ezra ended up having a guy that was bigger guarding him. He can quickly get to the basket, and he made a great finish.”
Once UC Davis took the lead with 1.2 seconds left on the clock, Les reminded his team to remain organized and poised, since LBSU was now forced to cover the entire court to create an opportunity to tie or win the game.
“I did not want them to make one long pass. Lo and behold, they were unable to even get a shot off,” Les added.
UC Davis’ defense also played a key role in Friday’s victory, which frustrated the Beach all night long since it committed 20 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the Aggies. Led by Pepper’s career-high four, UC Davis notched its third double-figure steals total of the year by finishing with 11, one shy of its a season high.
In addition to Manjon, who scored 14 of his points after halftime, Elijah Pepper hit three shots from three and 5 of 6 at the line to finish with 14 points. Christian Anigwe added another 10 points and led all players with career-high nine rebounds.