Resilience. This 10-letter word means a lot to people, but to the five seniors on the mighty 16-seed UC Davis, it tells their story.
Before their First Four game at UD Arena, head coach Jim Les told the team that this game was their fight. He believed it wasn’t their time to go home. So, they laced their sneakers for battle.
The game was tight. The bands were loud and the cheerleaders yelled with fervor. Every point was countered with another and it wasn’t until the last five seconds that UC Davis knew they would be making school history.
“We all have roles on the team and mine is defense, pick up the tempo on defense and use my athleticism and continue on the defensive end. When I do my job, we’re all top-notch players,” said senior Lawrence White.
With the 67-63 win over North Carolina Central, UC Davis advances to the round of 64 for the first time in program history to play Kansas, a No. 1 seed. One would think that this match up would be intimidating for a first-time NCAA tournament team, but the Aggies, again, show resilience.
“I don’t fear anybody, but I respect everybody and I feel like the way we play defense we can make any game a game. And, if we play the way we’ve been playing the past few weeks, then we can definitely do that,” said junior Chima Moneke.
Les beamed with pride throughout the press conference as he listened to his players’ confident reactions:
“It’s special — I’ve said this, our guys grew up as little hoopers dreaming about playing and having this opportunity. And it’s so special to be here. And we’re just going to continue to fight to keep this story going.”