It was a curious night all the way around.
Visiting Holy Names University came out playing inspired basketball against a makeshift UC Davis lineup, but by halftime the Aggie men had made their adjustments and they cruised to an 80-54 nonleague win Monday at The Pavilion.
The news on the court was as expected: UCD hammered the Hawks, who are emerging from NAIA status as a candidate for eventual Division II inclusion.
A 19-0 run, which started with an Iggy Nujic lay-in (off a slick Brynton Lemar dish) and featured two Josh Ritchart dunks as well as three treys from Ryan Sypkens, gave the Aggies (1-1) a 67-38 lead with only 5:19 remaining.
Sypkens finished with 25 points, Ritchard added 18 and the Aggie guard play was terrific. But the guards on this night weren’t familiar names like Hawkins or Les.
Hence, the news from off the court …
Star guard Corey Hawkins sat out Monday’s contest.
On the bench in street clothes — his hand bandaged — the All-Big West junior apparently was injured in a practice after the 100-83 loss Friday at Portland.
Aggie coach Jim Les was reluctant to talk about the All-American candidate’s setback:
“We’re just not sure,” the third-year UCD program boss told The Enterprise. “We’ve got some more testing to do. Not sure when he’ll be back, or when he’ll be ready.
“Now it’s just next man up.”
Then Les announced that his son Tyler — a 3-point-shooting, ball-dishing guard — would redshirt this year and return as a senior next season.
“There’s a number of different factors,” coach Les explained as to why Tyler won’t play. “It’s a joint decision for the betterment of him and the program.”
Missing two of the key faces from last year’s turn-around 14-17 squad, UCD found Monday it still had plenty of guards to go around.
In addition to the former Franklin High standout Sypkens’ big night, redshirt freshman Darius Graham (six assists) and true freshman Brynton Lemar (five assists and 11 points) ran the floor well, drawing Sypkens’ praise:
“They played well. It’s great to have good point guards … it opens the floor and I love playing with those guys. (Sacramento High grad) Darius is like a little brother to me.”
Sypkens was 7-of-10 from behind the arc — one off the school record for treys, held by Les and Hawkins.
Despite the lopsided score, it took the Aggies most of the first half before they shook loose from the Hawks.
With former Yuba City dandy Tyler Fry keeping Holy Names in the fray, the 0-2 Oakland school of 1,600 students had 17-12 and 23-17 first-half leads.
Fry was a load at the beginning and end of the contest, scoring 22 of his 27 points in the first 15 and the last five minutes.
Hawks forward Harold Perry Jr. was HNU’s next-highest scorer at seven.
“They were on fire at the start,” Sypkens said, adding that UCD hadn’t done much research on what the Hawks presented. “The focus was on us. We just had to figure out what they were doing.”
Once that happened, the Aggies went on a 15-4 run just before intermission — erasing any thoughts that this might be an upset of biblical proportions.
UCD shot 60.9 percent (28-of-46) from the floor and outrebounded its shorter opponents, 40-27.
The Aggie mix-and-match starting lineup of Georgi Funtarov (eight points), Ritchart, Avery Johnson (six points and eight boards), Graham and Lemar served notice.
“We just wanted to look at some different combinations,” Les said — not mentioning that Hawkins being out and playing a struggling opponent might have come into play. “We put guys in some roles to challenge them. Iggy and Syp, who are used to starting, came off the bench and you can see it didn’t have an effect on them. That’s a great luxury to have.”
Les said he could switch lineups from game to game because of better matchups.
“We don’t want anybody to get comfortable in practice,” the coach added.
Notes: UCD is at Utah (7 p.m.) on Friday for a game that will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. It also is slated to be on the same network for the Dec. 14 game at Stanford and on Fox Sports Prime Ticket against UC Irvine in a March 8 Big West crucial. … The Utes (1-0) are coming off of a 128-44 victory over Evergreen State. Utah forward Jordan Loveridge had 24 points and 13 rebounds. … Sypkens and Holy Names guard Carl Dorn (Florin High) played AAU ball together and then against each other as preps. … UCD is now 3-0 against the Hawks. In fact, it was on Nov. 25, 1998, that Aggie assistant coach Kevin Nosek went 4-of-5 from the perimeter in a 12-point performance against HNU. … Sypkens’ 25 point-performance was three shy of his career record set against Nevada. … Season tickets, single-game tickets and miniplans for Aggies men’s basketball can be purchased through the tickets link at www.ucdavisaggies.com or by phone at 530-752-AGS1. They also are available at the campus box office.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org