For the second time this season, the Big West went undefeated on a night where the conference had multiple games. The lone other occasion came on Nov. 27 when UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton each posted a victory in the conference’s only action that night.
The theme this time around was the brilliant displays of tenacity and prowess of the pride of the University of California system: their Mid-Major basketball programs.
The Big West’s night started down south in El Paso at The Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, as UC Irvine bullied Kent State en route to arguably one of the conference’s most impressive wins thus far.
The Anteaters came out of the gates with a massive zot as they pummeled Kent State with a 16-2 run to start the game. While UCI cruised for the first 35 minutes, some late missed free throws and turnovers made the final 74-68 score closer than the game felt.
As for the personal stats, the Easters relied on the brashness of their bigs, Forward Brad Greene finished with a career-high 16 points, and center Collin Welp had 18 points while going 6-6 from the free-throw line.
Next up for Irvine is UTEP in the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Class Championship, then a very interesting set of matchups to finish out their non-conference slate. The Eaters will welcome a currently 10-3 University of Pacific to the Bren Events Center, and then will hope to show the nation that the University of California system is greater than the Ivy League as they trek out to Cambridge to face Harvard.
Meanwhile back in California, things were looking bleak for UC Davis. The Aggies were playing in front of a fairly empty arena, as most students journeyed back home for winter break, and were down 14 at haltfime against Loyola Marymount. Things stayed the same throughout most of the second half when suddenly, the Aggies said, “let there be light.” Down 11 with about seven minutes left, the floodgates opened as Davis went on a 14-2 run.
However, the wind was taken out of the arena after a LMU layup with three seconds left on the clock. It seemed as though the Aggies would have nothing to show for their phenomenal run. But then, Joe “better than Steph Curry” Mooney got the ball one last time this night:
Joe Mooney provides the perfect ending for @ucdavismbb’s comeback! #Aggies erase their 14-point halftime deficit and win the game with this buzzer beater! #GoAgs #SCtop10 @BigWestHoops pic.twitter.com/CnjujX6e60— UC Davis Men’s Basketball (@ucdavismbb) December 17, 2019
Davis is slowly improving their record, as they are now 5-8 on the season and 3-0 at home. Additionally, the Aggies are 1-1 against “Loyolas” after getting absolutely pummeled in their season opener against Loyola Chicago.
And of course, let us not forget about the UC by the beach, UC Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos had a certain energy and feeling of vengeance after seeing their five-game winning streak came to a soul-crushing end against Southern Utah on Saturday. This energy disappeared for briefly in the second half, but as many UCSB students did last week during finals, they saved their asses at the last minute. Matt Freeman tied the game up with 21 seconds on the clock and the Gauchos held the Bengals in check to force overtime. UCSB held their own and got a big boost from Devearl Ramsey, as he nailed the dagger from behind the arc to secure the 74-68 win for Santa Barbara.