DAYTON, Ohio, Sporting Alert — Chima Moneke had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds and UC Davis defeated North Carolina Central 67-63 in the NCAA Tournament First Four at the University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday night.
Moneke, who is Nigerian and hasn’t seen his parents since 2009, shot 6-of-10 from the floor and had two steals in the win for the Aggies (23-12) who secured their first win at the NCAA Tournament after earning a trip to the tournament by winning the Big West Conference Tournament.
“Our guys grew up as little hoopers dreaming about playing and having this opportunity,” said UC Davis coach Jim Les. “And so it’s special to be here. And we’re just going to continue to fight, to keep this story going.”
“I feel like I’m a confident player, and I got it going early,” Moneke said. “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.”
Senior guard Brynton Lemar added 15 points and made three 3-pointers and five rebounds, while Lawrence White finished with 14 points in the for UC Davis, which moves on as a 16th seed to take on Kansas in the Midwest Regional on Friday in Tulsa.
Senior Dajuan Graf led North Carolina Central with 15 points, five assists and two steals.
Kyle Benton added 13 points and 12 rebounds Patrick Cole scored 13 points and Pablo Rivas ended with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Eagles (25-9).
“We missed too many layups,” ,” North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton said. “And I told the guys at the beginning of the season: Your season is going to come down to one possession. And you got to capitalize when you get that opportunity.”
North Carolina Central, which shot just 35.8 percent from the floor and went only 5-for-26 from 3-pointers overall, led 34-31 at halftime, but was outscored 36-29 in the second half in the defeat.
- March Madness 2017 NCAA Tournament Complete List of Teams
- NCAA Tournament: Robinson Leads Mount St Mary’s Past New Orleans
“We had guys, mentally they just weren’t there,” Moton said. “And they got in their feelings and their emotions a little bit, and they busted us in the mouth.
“And I think we gathered ourselves and obviously we made the switch to the 1-3-1 and caused some turnovers and got us back in.”