LAS VEGAS, Nev. – UC Davis used a second-half surge as a spark to a 77-68 victory over Lamar University Friday afternoon in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic from the Orleans Arena. The loss was LU's third straight and drops the Cardinals to 8-4 (.667) on the season, while UC Davis put a stop to a two-game slide to improve to 8-4.
The Cardinals took a one-point lead into the locker room, but UC Davis opened the second stanza on a 7-2 run to claim a four-point lead. LU managed to tie the game at 38 with just over 14 minutes remaining, but the Aggies responded by rattling off a 12-2 run to build a double-digit advantage, and the Cardinals were never able to recover.
The Cardinals finished the day shooting 26-of-56 (.464) from the field, but didn't heat from beyond the arc until the second half. LU shot 33 percent from three-point range (7-of-21), but finished the first 20 minutes just 3-of-11 (.273). Big Red outrebounded the Aggies, 29-28, including nine offensive rebounds. The offensive boards led to a 12-point advantage in second-chance points for the Cardinals.
UC Davis used a hot shooting second half (15-of-25/.600) to finish the game above 50 percent from the field (25-of-47/.532). The Aggies converted 8-of-19 (.421) attempts from beyond the arc, and were a near perfect 19-of-20 (.950) from the free throw line.
Senior James Harrison was one of four Cardinals in double figures finishing the day with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Harrison came off the bench to provide a spark in the opening half. He hit three of his first four three-point attempts and finished the half with 15 points. Junior Nick Garth also came off the bench to score 14 points as the Cardinals recorded a 35-17 advantage in bench scoring Friday.
The Aggies had three players in double figures led by point guard T.J. Shorts. Shorts scored a game-high 25 points, and was 13-of-13 from the stripe.
UC Davis took a 6-2 lead to start the game without benefit of an attempted field goal converting their first six free throw attempts. The Cardinals didn't take their first lead of the game until Harrison hit a three-pointer with 14:29 remaining to give LU a one-point advantage. LU didn't surrender the lead for the rest of half pushing it to as many as seven points before taking a one-point lead into the locker room.
Harrison finished the first half with 15 points and led an offense that shot 11-of-23 (.478) from the field. LU struggled from beyond the arc knocking down just 3-of-11 (.273) attempts.
The Aggies shot nearly 46 percent in the opening half, and were able to stay within arm's length due to their ability to convert opportunities following LU turnovers. The Cardinals turned the ball over fewer times than UC Davis in the opening half, but the Aggies had a 19-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
LU opened the half with a bucket but the Aggies hit their first three attempts to spark a 7-2 run. After falling behind by four points, the Cardinals got baskets from senior Joey Frenchwood and junior Josh Nzeakor to tie the game with 14:19 remaining.
UC Davis responded to the Cardinal's consecutive baskets by rattling off a 12-2 run to build a double-digit advantage. The Aggies pushed their lead to 13 points before LU made a push to get back in the game.
The Cardinals got consecutive threes from Garth followed by a layup from senior Colton Weisbrod to trim the deficit to five with just over six minutes remaining. Big Red would trim the lead to four points and had the ball but was unable to get any closer as the Aggies were able to hit their free throws down the stretch.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday at noon (2 p.m. Beaumont time) to take on North Carolina A&T. The game against the Aggies will be the Cardinals' final non-conference game before they open Southland play Thursday, Dec. 28.