UC Davis Aggies

The California-Davis Aggies huddle together as a team before the program's first ever NCAA tournament game.

It was their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.

But on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, the University of California-Davis Aggies made school history.

It was a sloppy game at times, with both the Aggies and the North Carolina Central Eagles looking every bit the part of the 16 seeds that they are.

But in the end the Aggies rode a strong offensive performance from Big West Conference Newcomer of the Year Chima Moneke to earn the right to play Kansas in the Round of 64.

The Aggies started the game 7-of-8 from the field, feeding the ball to Moneke in the post.

The junior out of Canberra, Australia was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field to kick off the contest.

However, a scoring drought that lasted almost six minutes saw a 18-9 Aggies turn into a 21-21 tie.

That scoring drought, and much of the team's sporadic offensive struggles throughout the game, were caused largely by North Carolina Central's zone defense.

It was a defense the Aggies saw little of in the Big West Conference. But they adjusted late in the second half.

"Well, we just wanted to be patient on the opposite end," said Brynton Lemar on adjusting to the Eagles' defense. "We knew they were flying their guards at us and if we got the ball to the corners we were able to skip the ball and make good plays of that. So it was just being more patient and trying to get the balls to the corner."

The Aggies' centred their offensive gameplan around Moneke, who recorded his 14th double double of the season with an 18 point, 12 rebound performance.

And in the late minutes of the first NCAA tournament game in program history, Moneke wanted the ball in his hands.

"I feel like I'm a confident player and I got it going early," said Moneke. "And I like the matchup that I had. And you know, my teammates were doing a great job of moving the ball, and I felt that if we continued to do that, I would put us in a successful position to score most of the time."

The confidence that both Moneke and the Aggies exude will be put to the test as they move on to the Round of 64 to take on the Kansas Jayhawks.

The 28-4 Jayhawks won the Big 12 Conference regular season title for the 13th straight year and will be a formidable opponent for the Aggies.

Particularly at the guard position.

But Aggies senior guard Lawrence White isn't buying it.

When Moneke pointed out in the postgame press conference that Kansas had a crop of talented guards, White's answer was nothing if not honest.

"So do we," said White.

He wasn't joking. And that's the mentality this UC Davis team needs if they want to give Kansas a run for their money.

"We like our competitiveness," said Aggies head coach Jim Les. "And we feel like in a one game situation, we're going to come, we're going to play hard, we're going to compete and let the chips fall where they may. So we're excited for this opportunity. And we'll concede nothing. We'll be ready."

The Aggies will enjoy this win, the greatest in the history of the school.

But then they'll look ahead to Kansas. And to make an even greater imprint as a program.


Load comments