After the Aggie women routed San Jose State in the first half of a basketball doubleheader at The Pavilion, it looked for a few minutes like the UC Davis men also would have their way with Sacramento State.
But after opening a 10-point lead late in the first half, the male Aggies couldn’t get enough key defensive plays and dropped a 73-67 decision to the Hornets.
“We couldn’t come up with stops consistently,” UCD guard Corey Hawkins told The Enterprise. “We started off the game strong, but they got hot. They had a lot of offensive rebounds. They made free throws.
“You have to make stops and you have to get rebounds. That’s the name of the game.”
After jumping out to leads of 13-4 and 20-10, the Aggies (3-4) committed five turnovers and were outrebounded 8-4 in the minutes before halftime.
Sac State (2-2) had worked it way back into the game and when Mikh McKinney hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Hornets trailed only 31-30.
As the score indicated, it was a close first 20 minutes and the two squads had almost identical statistics to that point:
Each had 13 field goals, four 3-pointers among them. UCD had outrebounded Sacramento State, 12-10, had one more assist, 9-8, and each team had a steal and a block.
McKinney and Aggie senior Josh Ritchart each had scored 15 points by the break.
For much of the second half, things remained nip-and-tuck.
At 18:18, Ryan Sypkens became the 19th UCD member of the 1,000-point club when he canned a trey off a Hawkins assist.
The locals would twice build their lead back to four points, but Sacramento State started taking advantage of Aggie fouls and began to sink free throws. The Hornets went up 47-42 on Zach Mills’ 3-pointer, but UCD battled back.
At 8:37, Hawkins tied the game at 48-48 when he put one of his dad’s (former NBA star Hersey Hawkins) spin moves on Jordan Salley and scored despite being fouled.
Hawkins’ free throw would give the Aggies a short-lived lead.
From there, the Hornets went on an eight-point run thanks to two McKinney foul shots and two treys by Dreon Bartlett.
Hawkins’ lay-up at 1:28 pulled the locals to within two (63-61) but eight free throws down the stretch held UCD at arm’s length.
“We had some miscues defensively, and I have to give Sac State credit,” Aggie coach Jim Les said afterward. “Every time we did (make a mistake) they made a shot. Some were contested, some of them wide-open.”
Les added that there’s work to be done:
“That’s the one area that we have to continue to get better in, on the defensive end. You can’t allow a team to come into your building and shoot 47 percent and 52 from three. At some point you have to get stops, contest shots and make them miss — not just hope they’re going to miss.”
Ritchart, the reigning Big West Player of the Week for his offensive showing at last weekend’s Portland Tournament, again led the Aggies with 20 points (and only four rebounds).
Hawkins had 16 points and a team-high six rebounds.
Sypkens had 10 points.
Curiously, the Aggies hit 55.6 percent of their shots, but didn’t get enough of them, going 25-for-45 from the field.
Sacramento State’s 9-of-17 shooting from beyond the arc — as opposed to UCD’s 6-of-15 — was one of the differences in the game. As was the 20-for-24 charity-strip feast the Hornets had.
The Aggies were outrebounded, 27-20.
So where was the problem? In the paint or on the perimeter?
“I think when I go back and watch the tapes, I’ll find we had some issues both ways,” Les said, adding that he thought his defense was getting better: “Obviously it’s not where it needs to be.”
UCD next entertains Idaho (3-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Notes: The twinbill crowd swelled to 2,465 before the final buzzer. … In addition to McKinney, four other Hornets were in double figures: Cody Demps (11), Dylan Garrity (10), Mills (10) and Salley (11). Garrity, who averaged 17.7 ppg last year and had 344 assists, added six dishes against the Aggies. Sacramento State coach Brian Katz received a five-year contract extension in July. He’s in his sixth season with the Hornets. … Les was unhappy with the officiating Tuesday, but had no comment for the media. At one point he pleaded with official Michael Scyphers, “Hey, Mike! Can I just get one call tonight?” Scyphers replied: “Sure, just one.” Aggie fans might think Scyphers fibbed to Les.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456