Nostalgia filled the air in the Rolle Activity Center as the University of California, Davis (UCD) Aggies ran away with the win, defeating the men's basketball team 85-66 Wednesday evening. The Lumberjacks could not shut down UCD at the perimeter, as Aggies senior guard Joe Mooney shot 5-8 from the three-point line with 31 points in the second half and a career high 35 overall.
NAU looked to extend its three-game winning streak for the first time since 2015. With NAU’s standout transfer senior guard Ted McCree Jr. out sick on the bench, players had to step up and make adjustments to try and come away with the win.
“Ted is out sick and that means next man up,” sophomore guard Luke Avdalovic said. “If coach asks me to play extra minutes, then I will do what he asks of me.”
The Aggies drew first blood, scoring first on a fastbreak layup that was answered just seconds later with a layup by NAU sophomore guard Cameron Shelton. Both teams battled back and forth, as NAU tied the game 36-36 just before the end of the first half with a three-point shot from senior guard Chris Bowling.
It was neck and neck at halftime, as both teams tallied near equal rebounds and turnovers, keeping NAU in the fight against the Aggies. With optimism in the air, there was a real opportunity for the Lumberjacks to come away with the win.
That is, until the second half started.
As the final half of the game began, it became the Mooney show, as he knocked down a 3-pointer 18 seconds in, giving the Aggies a 39-36 lead. Mooney followed that shot with a layup to extend the lead to 41-36, giving the Aggies a cushion and confidence as UCD began scoring at will.
Mooney lit up the gymnasium with a sharpshooting second half performance, shooting 5-6 at the three-point line and 11-13 from the field in a huge turnaround effort to propel the Aggies to the win 85-66, which snapped NAU's three-game winning streak.
“When you score 35 points like that, you’re kind of in that ‘zone’ you talk about in sports,” NAU interim head coach Shane Burcar said. “The thing about his shot was it was nothing but net on every one. He had it going tonight for sure, but I thought we could’ve done a better job [guarding] him too.”
With the loss, NAU is 3-2 on the season and will hit the road this weekend, traveling to Prescott, Arizona to take on the University of Nebraska Omaha Sunday before heading out on a five-game road trip.
“We’re leaving the comfort of home but we have to continue to play with confidence,” Avdalovic said. “I think that’s one thing we lacked tonight was confidence. If we can continue to play with confidence, the gym won’t really matter.”