Frustration was in the air at The Pavilion after the UC Davis men’s basketball team lost, 73-64, to San Jose State on Wednesday night.
From the fans wandering out of the building as the buzzer sounded to the players standing on the court shaking their heads, almost everyone seemed to be feeling the same sense of exasperation — and with good reason.
The loss was the Aggies’ third in row by 10 points or less and, at this point, coming up short just isn’t cutting it.
“We need wins,” guard Corey Hawkins said after UCD fell to 1-5. “There’s no coming close anymore, there’s no ‘we almost got it.’ We need to get wins. We need to start learning how to finish games now, rather than wait for conference (play).
The Aggies had several opportunities down the stretch to take the victory, but couldn’t find a way to capitalize on them.
With 11 minutes to go in the second half, Hawkins got to the line and sank a pair of free throws to give UCD a 48-47 lead. But the Spartans responded with 12-2 run that put them back up by nine.
The Aggies then got within two points twice in the last five minutes, but each time buckets by Spartan James Kinney — the nation’s sixth-leading scorer — set them back.
They missed out on an opportunity to make it a one-possession game with less than a minute left by wasting 20 seconds trying to set up a play before abandoning it. Instead, Ryan Sypkens was forced to launch an off-balance 3-point attempt that had no chance of connecting.
“Five minutes to go and it’s a winnable game and we just haven’t crossed the line with this young group and (made) the necessary plays to win the game,” said UCD head coach Jim Les. “Credit James Kinney, who’s an awfully good player. I thought he took over down the stretch and made a lot of big plays and big shots.”
The Aggies couldn’t find a way to contain Kinney, who had 27 points and five rebounds for San Jose State (4-3). The locals also gave up 34 points in the paint, turned the ball over 15 times and were outrebounded 42-32.
And yet, they stayed close throughout the game.
Behind the offensive play of Hawkins, who had 16 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds, and Sypkens, who finished with 18 points, UCD led for long stretches of the first half. With nine minutes to go in the period, Sypkens drained a 3-pointer to give his team a 21-12 advantage.
But Kinney scored six points in a span of two minutes to bring the Spartans within one. From there, the teams traded leads until San Jose State took a 35-31 advantage into halftime.
The game remained close after the break until the Spartans began to pull away after Sypkens’ missed three.
Big men Josh Ritchart (11 points and seven rebounds) and J.T. Adenrele (10 points and four boards) were factors for the Aggies inside. However, leading rebounder Ryan Howley got into foul trouble early and ended up playing only 21 minutes — a major reason why the Spartans were able to dominate their hosts on the glass.
UCD will have a chance to regroup before traveling to Stanford on Dec. 15.
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org