RIVERSIDE — Though the contest featured one huge highlight — UC Davis senior Ryan Sypkens setting the all-time Big West record for career 3-pointers — Thursday was a tough night for the Aggie men’s basketball team.
By losing 78-65 at UC Riverside, UCD (9-21, 4-11) will officially miss the conference tournament. The Highlanders (10-19, 5-10) clinched the final spot in the next week’s event with their win.
But, by nailing 3-of-4 from behind the arc, Sypkens now sits alone as the Big West’s all-time 3-point shot-maker with 313.
His teammate Brynton Lemar was inspired by Sypkens’ performance as the freshman made all three of his long-range attempts Thursday, after hitting just three in his first 23 games. Lemar made 8-of-16 shots overall to score 19 points, a new career high.
“(Brynton) did a nice job (Thursday) … I love his aggressiveness and think he has a bright future in this program,” said UCD head coach Jim Les. “Brynton, Georgi (Funtarov) and Darius (Graham) are working hard and continue to improve. Our young guys have taken bigger roles than expected this season, which has helped accelerate their development.”
With the Aggies trailing by nine, and 3:52 left until halftime, Sypkens sank his record-setting shot and was fouled in the process. When he completed the four-point play, UCD was within five.
After the Aggies again cut into the lead — this time trimming it to eight midway through the second half — UC Riverside used a 7-0 spurt to put the game away.
Corey Hawkins (13 points) and Sypkens (10) gave UCD three players in double digits, while Funtarov led the Aggies with seven rebounds and chipped in 8 points. Graham was 4-for-6 from the floor and connected on his only 3-point attempt to finish with 9 points.
UCD is now relegated to playing spoiler, which it will attempt to do in its season finale on Saturday at UC Irvine. An Aggie win in that 4:30 p.m. outing, which will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Tickets, would keep the Anteaters from clinching the outright Big West title.