NORTHRIDGE — Corey Hawkins caught fire in the second half to help the UC Davis men’s basketball team battle back from an early deficit, but the rally fell short as the Aggies dropped their Big West Conference opener, 89-77, Thursday at Cal State Northridge
Hawkins scored 16 of his 25 points in the final 20 minutes at The Matadome, helping UCD (5-11) pull within five with 3:08 remaining. The Matadors (9-7), however, held on and snapped a three-game losing streak against the Aggies.
In addition to Hawkins, four other locals finished in double figures as Darius Graham had 13 points, Clint Bozner set a new career high with his 12, Georgi Funtarov chipped in another 12 and Ryan Sypkens hit for 11.
Bozner also matched another career best by finishing with a team-high six rebounds. Graham, meanwhile, matched Avery Johnson for the team lead with four assists.
Beginning with just under nine minutes left and his team trailing by 14, Hawkins scored 10 straight points, and Sypkens nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 76-71.
The teams traded buckets for the next two minutes, before CSUN scored eight points, primarily from the free-throw line, in the final 90 seconds to seal the victory.
In a game that featured six of the Big West’s top 10 foul shooters, both squads lived up to expectations as each missed only one shot from the charity stripe. UCD was 15-of-16 from the line, setting a new season high for percentage (.938), and the Matadors made 22-of-23.
Hawkins led all players at the line with his 11-for-12 effort, falling one free throw shy of matching his career high.
With Bozner leading the way, the Aggie bench outscored the Northridge reserves, 16-12, but the Matador starters did enough to make up the difference. Forward Stephen Maxwell led all players with 26 points and sank all 10 of his free throw attempts, while Josh Greene finished with 22 points and Stephan Hicks had 17.
Notes: UCD is now 3-4 in Big West openers since joining the conference in 2007. … The Aggies stay on the road Saturday to face Long Beach State at 4 p.m. Local fans can listen to the action on KSAC (105.5FM) or at www.ucdavisaggies.com.