On a day celebrating the 100th anniversary of men’s basketball at UC Davis, the Aggies came back from a double-digit deficit in the first half, only to see themselves fall back again after intermission. The second hole was too big to climb out of and UCD lost its ESPNU BracketBusters game, 83-69, to Hawaii on Saturday at The Pavilion.
After taking a 39-38 advantage early in the second half of the nonconference contest, the Aggies were outrebounded 19-11 and shot 37 percent the rest of the way to fall to 9-17 on the season.
“We only gave up one offensive rebound in the first half. That kept it manageable until halftime,” UCD head coach Gary Stewart said. “(After halftime) we couldn’t get a stop. We didn’t have defensive rhythm.”
For the Rainbow Warriors (15-10), Zane Johnson was 9-of-15 from 3-point range for 32 points, while Bill Amis added 20 as Hawaii shot 60.9 percent from the field.
“We wish we could have shown a better performance (for the alumni in attendance for the 100-year anniversary),” said Aggie senior Joe Harden.
Harden racked up 19 points, choosing a fitting night to climb into the program’s top 10 list for all-time scoring. He added five rebounds and five assists, while senior Mark Payne added 12 points for UCD.
Early on, the Rainbow Warriors displayed their explosiveness and nearly out the Aggies away for good.
With the game tied 3-3, Hawaii’s Jeremiah Ostrowski stripped the ball out of Ryan Sypkens’ hands and burst down court on the fast break with Vander Joaquim trailing behind him. Ostrowski then handed the ball off to Joaquim, who exploded off the floor and finished the play with a basket-rattling jam, during which his elbow soared above the rim.
After the monster dunk, Johnson drained a three from the wing and hit a jumper in the paint, then Ostrowski nailed a trey and Hawaii’s advantage was extended to 13-3.
But UCD wasn’t going to go away that quickly.
Senior Todd Lowenthal swished a midrange jumper to cut the deficit to 23-15 with 8:37 left in the half, then Tyler Les jacked up a three from way behind the arc and nailed it. On the next possession, Les hit another trey to cut the deficit to 23-21, and force Hawaii to call a timeout.
After the breather, the two teams traded baskets with the Rainbow Warriors maintaining the advantage until, with moments left in the first half, Lowenthal got a strip and went coast-to-coast for a layup, that put the Aggies up 37-36.
However, a lay-in by Johnson had UCD down 38-37 at halftime.
After the break, a layup by Harden, that he made while falling backwards, gave UCD its last lead at 39-38. But after that, it was all Hawaii.
A pair of free throws and a putback by Joaquim reestablished the Rainbow Warriors’ advantage. Then a pair of treys by Johnson extended Hawaii’s lead to 48-39.
After another 3-point dagger by Johnson, the Rainbow Warriors were ahead 57-45.
But the Aggies wouldn’t go away without a fight. Josh Ritchart nailed a pair of threes and Harden converted a three-point play, slashing the deficit to 68-62 with 6:44 to play. But UCD would come no closer.
Three more treys by Johnson pushed Hawaii out to an 83-66 lead, before the game settled at the final margin.
UCD is back in action on Thursday, with a 7 p.m. matchup at UC Irvine.
Notes: The Aggies are 3-9 in Big West play. … UCD will make a return trip to Hawaii next season for a nonconference game, before the Rainbow Warriors join the Big West in 2012. … A group of former Aggies was in attendance for the 100th anniversary celebration.