Jan. 11, 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. - UC Davis played one of its best halves of the season in Saturday's Big West Conference game at the Walter Pyramid against Long Beach State, one that saw the Aggies limit the 49ers' top three scorers to six points combined (the trio averages a collective 40.0 ppg), shoot 53.6 pct. from the field, 53.3 pct. from three and enter halftime leading 44-40.
But a post-break run that saw Long Beach State score the first 30 straight points of the second half helped the 49ers down the Aggies 99-74.
UC Davis will enter its upcoming three-game homestand with a 5-12 overall and 0-2 Big West record. Behind Travis Hammonds' team-high 20 points, Long Beach State improves to 5-11 and 1-1.
Junior guard Ryan Sypkens connected on six of 10 shots from three, scored once from inside the arc and sank his only free throw taken to lead his team in scoring with 21 points.
Behind his 12-point first-half effort, Corey Hawkins finished just shy of his teammate's total and finished with 19. Returning to his hometown for the first time in a UC Davis uniform, junior guard Avery Johnson scored seven points, grabbed three rebounds blocked one shot and earned one steal.
Johnson grew up in Long Beach and attended Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., just a short drive south of the Walter Pyramid.
"We played a really good first half because everyone contributed; everybody played to their role and strengths. In the second half, I thought we got away from that. You cannot afford to do that, especially on the road," said head coach Jim Les.
Led by Hawkins and Sypkens, who canned five threes throughout the first half, seven of the eight Aggies who saw action scored a field goal; including Iggy Nujic who collected three rebounds before the break, a different group of seven recorded at least one board before the break and helped the Aggies nearly match the 49ers' first-half rebound total.
Of UC Davis' 26 rebounds, 15 were earned throughout the first 20 minutes of the game. Long Beach entered the locker room at halftime with 16.
Once action resumed, Long Beach erased its deficit and built a 26-point lead before the Aggies were able to score their first points of the half-provided by Corey Hawkins who swished back-to-back free throws after 8:06 of game time.
After Hawkins scored two at the line, the final 11-plus minutes of the game mirrored that of the first half with each team running up and down the court at a fan-friendly pace, trading baskets against one another from both sides of the arc.
Starting with Hawkins' shots at the stripe, until the final buzzer sounded, UC Davis outscored its opponents 30-29-a feat that primarily took place against the 49ers' starters as Long Beach State's reserves did not enter the game until the final media timeout of the night took place with 2:24 remaining.
UC Davis's next three games will take place inside The Pavilion beginning with Thursday's matchup against UC Riverside. Also visiting Davis throughout the team's two-week, season-long homestand are Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 18) and Hawai'i (Jan. 23).
Added Les after the game, "We need to clean some things up, put this game aside and win some games at home."
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