March 5, 2011
DAVIS, Calif. - Mark Payne scored a game high 28 points, while adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals in his final game in an Aggie uniform but the UC Davis men's basketball team couldn't hold on for the win, falling 87-82 to Cal State Fullerton on senior night, Saturday at The Pavilion.
There were five ties and nine lead changes in the up-tempo game, with both teams combining for 24 threes in the contest. UC Davis closed out the season with a 10-20 overall record and a 4-12 mark in conference play. Cal State Fullerton improved to 11-19 and 7-9 in the Big West, earning a No. 6 seed in the conference tournament. The Titans will play No. 3 Cal State Northridge in the first round.
Payne's 28 points came on 9 of 15 shooting, with a 9 of 12 effort at the line. Payne finished sixth on the all-time leading scorers list and second overall in assists. Ryan Sypkens added 22 points on 7 of 16 shooting, tying a career high he set just one game ago.
The Aggies also celebrated seniors Todd Lowenthal and Joe Harden. Lowenthal finished with five rebounds and four assists in the game and Harden did not play due to injury.
The Titans were led by Devon Peltier, who posted 25 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Isiah Umipig had an efficient night for Cal State Fullerton, recording 23 points on 8 of 11 shooting.
"The mood in the locker room was one of disappointment, in terms of the outcome tonight," said head coach Gary Stewart. "Also with the finality of the game. Knowing that we won't go down this road again with Mark, Todd and Joe is hard. But our kids fought tonight and this whole season. I'm really proud of them."
The track meet started right away in the first half, as UC Davis opened with a 14-9 advantage at the 15:36 mark. After Cal State Fullerton tied the game at 18-18 the Aggies outscored the Titans 17-3 over a five minute stretch, taking a 35-21 lead with 8:38 on the clock.
Cal State Fullerton made up the difference quickly and took its first lead of the game with a 47-46 score and 1:17 to go in the first half. UC Davis scored the final basket of the half however, taking a 48-47 advantage into the locker room.
Umigip was on fire in the first half, scoring 20 points on 7 of 7 shooting to lead all scorers. Sypkens had some hot shooting of his own in the opening period, tallying 19 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Payne started his senior night with 15 points in the first 20 minutes.
The second half pace mirrored the first, with both teams trading baskets out to a 56-50 lead for UC Davis at the 18:14 mark. After another five point lead for the Aggies, there was a stretch of over 12 minutes where neither team led by more than three points.
The score was tied at 76-76 with 4:28 to go in the game, when Cal State Fullerton took control with an 8-1 run. The Titans held UC Davis to just one point for nearly four minutes during that stretch, taking an 84-77 advantage with 44 seconds left to play. Cal State Fullerton managed to hit enough free throws down the stretch to hand on for the win with a final 87-82 score.
"Sometimes with basketball your best isn't good enough," continued Stewart. "I thought our kids really worked diligently this season in preparing and playing hard during games. Unfortunately we weren't quite good enough to absorb all of the injuries and still continue to win games. We certainly gave ourselves chances to win his season, we just weren't able to capitalize. Tonight was indicative of our season; we just ran out of gas at the end."
Saturday marked the final game of the season for UC Davis. The Big West tournament will take place next week, Thursday through Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.