March 6, 2014
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - UC Davis pulled within eight points of UC Riverside in the second half of Thursday's Big West game from the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif., but the Highlanders were able to pull away to clinch the last available berth at next week's conference tournament by defeating the Aggies 78-65.
With the result, UC Davis falls to 9-21 overall and 4-11 in league play heading into its final game of the season Saturday at UC Irvine. With the win, UC Riverside improves to 10-19 and 5-10.
By finishing with three baskets from three, senior guard Ryan Sypkens now sits alone as the Big West Conference's all-time three-point shooter. He will enter his final game as an Aggie, one that Fox Sports Prime Ticket will broadcast beginning at 4:30 p.m., from the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif., with 313 career treys.
On 8 of 16 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from three Brynton Lemar bumped his previous career best by three points. Entering Thursday's game, Lemar hit three from distance throughout his first 23 games played.
"(Brynton) did a nice job tonight... I love his aggressiveness and think he has a bright future in this program," said UC Davis head coach Jim Les.
"Brynton, Georgi (Funtarov) and Darius (Graham) are working hard and continue to improve; our young guys have taken bigger roles than expected this season which has helped accelerate their development."
With UC Davis trailing by nine, and 3:52 left until halftime, Sypkens sank his record-setting shot and was fouled in the process. By connecting at the line, he nearly trimmed his team's deficit in half on one play.
Down by 10 at halftime, UC Davis sliced two points off its deficit before the Highlanders scored seven unanswered points midway through the second half-a run that ultimately sealed the Aggies' postseason fate.
In addition to Lemar, Corey Hawkins and Sypkens also scored double digits, finishing with 13 and 10 points respectively.
Lemar was not the only freshman who played well against the Highlanders as Georgi Funtarov and Darius Graham also posted solid numbers. Besides leading all Aggies with seven rebounds, Funtarov chipped in eight points, falling two points shy of recording his second double-figure effort within the last three games. Graham was 4-for-6 from the floor and connected on his only three-point attempt to finish with nine points.
The Aggies will now play the role of spoilers in Saturday's season finale as they attempt to finish the season on a positive note, and prevent UC Irvine from winning the league title outright.