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Big West Semifinals: UC Davis wins at the buzzer

Aggies vs Anteaters: Round two.

NCAA Basketball: Big West Conference Tournament-Cal State Fullerton vs UC Davis Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve officially created a new nickname for UC Davis forward Chima Moneke: that is “Money Moneke” of course. Not only did he have a fantastic night for the Aggies, pitching in 19 points and 14 rebounds, but he hit the game-winning putback that sent No. 2 UC Davis into a rematch with No. 1 UC Irvine for the Big West championship. Here’s how they got there:

UC Irvine 62, Long Beach State 57

UC Irvine held LBSU from a late-game comeback thanks to the strong play of guards Jaron Martin and Luke Nelson. Together they pitched in 32 points off of five threes. Jonathon Galloway came up huge as usual with nine rebounds, and protected the paint with five blocks. Temidayo Yussuf tried to lead the late LBSU comeback, but it was too little too late as Nelson was able to seal the deal in the second half with a few clutch jumpers.

UC Davis 66, CS Fullerton 64 OT

Although UC Davis fell behind in the second half due to Tre Coggins’s hot shooting, Brynton Lemar and Moneke provided a spark to the Aggies’ offense and led the way through an intense overtime period. Lemar scored 23 points, including nine in overtime and, Moneke of course was there to tip in Siler Schneider’s missed three for the win.

The Aggies’ grit kept them through this tough one, but certainly they’ll need to improve their shooting (11% from 3 wont cut it) and perimeter defense to contain Nelson and Martin of the Aggies. Surely, though, they’ll be on the receiving end of some added firepower from the Aggies, who are seeking to avenge their 79-49 defeat at the hands of UC Irvine earlier this year. As Moneke motioned after his game winner, one more win is only needed to make the tourney, but of course this will be the hardest one yet.