Nov. 4, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. – Led by senior swingman Josh Ritchart who helped his team build a lead as large as 27 in the first half by scoring all 12 of his game-high points prior to the break, UC Davis cruised to a 81-53 over Menlo College in Monday’s exhibition contest at The Pavilion.
Ritchart was one of five Aggies to score double digits against the Oaks; in his first game in a UC Davis uniform, freshman guard Brynton Lemar added 11 points to go with his four rebounds, and three assists. In his debut game, junior forward Iggy Nujic matched Ritchart's total while senior guard Ryan Sypkens and freshman guard Darius Graham each chipped in 10.
Ritchart finished his night with a double-double as he also led all players with 10 rebounds
In a game that saw UC Davis lead from start-to-finish, the Aggies scored 16 points before Menlo College earned its first field goal 7:20 into the game.
Combined with an early 11-0 UC Davis scoring run, and another two-minute block of time that saw the Aggies score 10 unanswered points leading up to halftime, the Aggies created a sizable first-half lead that only grew as the game progressed.
Led by Ritchart and his six blocked shots, a total that would have set a new program record had Monday’s game been official, the Aggies forced 17 Oaks turnovers on nine blocks, and eight steals.
Even though Georgi Funtarov scored six points and grabbed five boards, it was a play that took place moments after he first entered the game that caught the attention of everyone in attendance.
On his first defensive possession, Funtarov broke up a lob pass that led to a Corey Hawkins fast-break basket. Menlo's next possession saw the freshman forward deflect another entry pass into the paint, sprint down the court and dive to the floor in an attempt to corral a loose ball. For his hustle, the crowd responded with a boisterous round of applause–something that took place every time he altered an Oaks' shot, or scored on one of his own, for the rest of the game.
Nujic and Lemar, UC Davis' other two players who saw significant action in their inaugural appearance, also turned in impressive efforts against Menlo College.
Equally as efficient on both sides of the three-point arc, Nujic sank two shots from distance, and another three baskets from varying distances around the floor to finish alongside Ritchart with a team-high 12 points.
Aggressive on both ends from the moment he stepped onto the court, Lemar slashed through the Oaks' defense to the basket on multiple occasions whenever an opportunity presented itself. Forced to pack the paint in an attempt to stop Lemar from scoring easy points, the San Diego native punished Menlo College in other ways by finding an open teammate, extending his team's possession by crashing the glass or by scoring with his mid-range jumper.
When play resumed in the second half, the action that followed closely resembled the pattern that developed throughout the opening 20 minutes. On one end of the floor, UC Davis made Menlo College work hard on every possession–opportunities that either ended with a poor shot, or a forced turnover. On the other end, UC Davis executed its offense with poise, and precision to create the best possible scoring opportunity.
However, there was one difference between the two halves.
In the waning minutes of the game, junior forward Clint Bozner not only ran the floor properly on a Lemar-led fast break, he threw down a one-handed dunk on his teammate's missed layup that brought everyone, except Oaks fans, to their feet.
The basket, scored over the back of a Menlo defender, was done with such force and intensity, the crowd was still buzzing with delight even after Menlo College called a timeout immediately following Bozner's basket.
UC Davis will officially start its season Friday night at Portland. Tipoff from the Chiles Center will take place at 7:30 p.m.