March 1, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. - Corey Hawkins scored a team-high 16 points and UC Davis cut an 18-point second-half deficit to single digits, but visiting UC Santa Barbara was able to hold off the Aggies for a 67-54 Big West Conference men's basketball victory in a nationally televised game at The Pavilion on Saturday.
"I really want to thank the fans and students for coming out to support us, this was an awesome environment once again," said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
The Aggies fell to 9-20 overall and 4-10 in the Big West while UCSB, which was led by guard Michael Bryson's 19 points, improved to 19-8 overall and 10-4 in the conference. Zalmico Harmon added 11 points while Alan Williams had 10 rebounds before fouling out.
Prior to tipoff, senior guard Ryan Sypkens was honored in a pregame ceremony by Aggie men's basketball. Competing in his final game inside The Pavilion as UC Davis' lone graduating senior, the Elk Grove native was celebrated by his teammates before joining his parents, brother and Les at mid-court.
"It was a blessing to have a senior night with a packed house, in this environment, on a nationally televised game," said Sypkens.
"I really felt the support from the community before, and during the game," Sypkens said after receiving an ovation from the crowd once he left the court in the final minute. "I cannot thank them enough."
Eight minutes into the game, UC Davis trailed by double digits before whittling the Gauchos' lead to fas few as three. The Aggies' run was fueled by Sypkens, who hit the first of his three baskets from behind the arc to spark a 9-2 UC Davis run. Back-to-back buckets from Darius Graham, and a layup from Hawkins pulled the Aggies within one field goal of UCSB.
Entering Saturday's matchup tied for No. 4 in the league with 307 career three-point field goals made, Sypkens exited The Pavilion with 309 treys and now sits alone in the conference's No. 2 spot.
UC Davis trailed by 18 points at 43-25 early in the second half when Bryson canned a three-pointer, and was down 47-33 later but Hawkins scored three points and Darius Graham nailed a jumper to cut the deficit to just 47-38. A three-point play from Avery Johnson with 4:04 left brought the Aggies to within 55-47 but they weren't able to get any closer down the stretch.
As the second half progressed, the Aggies showed no fear in attacking the rim and were able to push Williams into foul trouble.. When he left the game prior to the final media timeout of the night, the Big West's leading scorer finished with eight points, his lowest total of the season.
"I thought we did a great job at attacking (Alan) Williams, took a few charges and were able to make a few plays. Even though we forced him into foul trouble, (the Gauchos) did not hang their head as their bench came in and gave them a big lift," said Les.
UC Davis will hit the road for its final two games of the regular season starting with Thursday's tilt at UC Riverside. ESPN3 will broadcast the action from the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif., starting at 7 p.m.