Nov. 9, 2012
STILLWATER, Okla. - Three Aggies scored in double-digits Friday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena but Oklahoma State was able to escape visiting UC Davis with a hard-fought 73-65 win in a season-opening men's basketball game for both teams.
Led by Corey Hawkins who scored 13 points in his first game in a UC Davis uniform, the Aggies tied the game at 61-61 with 5 minutes, 10 seconds to play. However, the Cowboys' Jean-Paul Olukemi scored inside and Phil Forte added an off-balanced three-pointer for a 66-61 lead. UC Davis got to within 68-65 on Ryan Howley's layup with 2:34 to play, but Oklahoma State was able to hold the Aggies off the rest of the way.
"Even though the loss may sting, I told my players that they should be proud of their efforts," said head coach Jim Les. "If we can continue playing like that, we will become a tough team to play against.
"The players were ready to work hard and compete against a talented team."
In addition to Hawkins, Ryan Howley finished with a double-double of 11 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Josh Ritchart added another 10 points to complete the trio of UC Davis double-digit scorers.
Howley's previous career high of nine rebounds was originally set on Nov. 21, 2011, vs. Bryant.
UC Davis kept itself within reach of the Cowboys throughout the entire evening due to its effort on the boards. The Aggies simply outhustled and outworked the Cowboys in the paint to finish with a 43-29 rebounding advantage.
Led by Howley, all nine Aggies that saw action recorded at least one rebound.
Ryan Sypkens scored an early three-pointer to put UC Davis on the scoreboard first but Oklahoma State eventually took a 20-10 lead midway through the half, eventually stretching it to 31-18 before an 8-2 run to end the half, keyed by three-pointers from Hawkins and Sypkens, sent UC Davis into intermission trailing only 37-32.
The Cowboys stretched the lead to nine points early in the second half but the Aggies battled back once again, taking its second lead of the game, 46-45, on freshman guard Darius Graham's jumper with 13:35 to go. Graham's three-pointer a minute later gave UC Davis a 51-48 advantage but an 11-1 run by Oklahoma State returned the lead to the Cowboys 59-52 with 8:15 remaining. The teams were tied twice more, the final time on Ritchart's layup that tied the game at 61 apiece.
With players forced to sit due to foul trouble, or cramping as the game progressed, the Aggie bench also made its mark in a game that saw five lead changes, and four tied scores.
In his first game as an Aggie, Graham tallied seven points and five rebounds, with teammate Tyler Les chipping in another six points by connecting on two of his four shots from behind the arc. In his debut, junior transfer Spencer Clayton finished with one rebound.
Competing inside one of the loudest arenas in the nation, UC Davis was able to successfully take the crowd out of the game for a majority of the night until the Cowboys pulled away in the final minute.
"Our guys were excited about the challenge... in no way were we fearful about competing here," said Les.
UC Davis outrebounded Oklahoma State 43-29, including a 16-9 lead on the offensive glass. The Aggies also shot 50 percent (12 of 24) from the field in the second half.
Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash each scored 16 points for Oklahoma State while Forte added 10 and Olukemi pitched in with 10.
UC Davis will return to action on Nov. 18, hosting Northern Arizona in its home opener at The Pavilion at 2 p.m.