Nov. 11, 2011
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Forward Ramell Taylor's 19 points led four Thunderbirds in double figures as the Southern Utah men's basketball team survived a late comeback by UC Davis to record a 76-75 season-opening win in the first round of the round-robin Basketball Traveler's Classic at San Diego State on Friday night.
UC Davis, which was playing without returning starter Eddie Miller and also Harrison Dupont who both missed because of injury, were paced by Ryan Sypkens who had 19 points. Sophomore Josh Ritchart added 16 while freshman Tyrell Corbin scored 15, junior Ryan Howley had 11 and freshman J.T. Adrenele pitched in with 10.
UC Davis trailed 70-60 with 3 minutes, 12 seconds to go and was still down 73-66 with 34 seconds remaining before rallying with tough pressure in the backcourt to eventually get within 74-72 on Corbin's three-pointer with 13 ticks left. The Aggies forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds but a turnover on their own inbounds play gave it back. Jackson Stevenett made two free throws for a four-point lead before Ritchart's trey with two seconds to go provided the final margin.
Southern Utah outrebounded the Aggies 43-23 and shot 57.7 percent in the second half and built its double-digit lead late in the game after leading just 30-28 at halftime. First-year Aggie coach Jim Les was happy with his team's resiliency but felt it didn't do enough on the defensive end.
"The one positive is we didn't give up. They kept battling and we can get hot and make shots," he said. " When you let a team run their offense the way they want, let their good players catch the ball and play to their strengths, they're going to have success. And anytime we did get up a stop, we couldn't come up with a rebound which was disappointing."
UC Davis led 7-6 in the early minutes of the game after a three-pointer from Ryan Howley but a 10-0 run by Southern Utah capped by Ramell Taylor's Dunk with 12:15 left made it 16-7. The Aggies climbed back with a 10-2 surge of its own, keyed by five points from Ritchart, to get within 18-17 with 8 minutes to go.
Sypken's trey with 5:11 left - he had four in the game - gave UC Davis a 22-20 lead. The teams were tied twice more before the Thunderbirds went into halftime with a 30-28 advantage. The Aggies made just 2 of 11 (.182) from three-point territory in the first half.
A three-pointer from Sypkens early in the second half helped reel in Southern Utah and give UC Davis a 35-34 lead after the Thunderbirds had gone up 34-28. The Aggies led one more time but then trailed by as many as eight before getting to within 55-51 after Corbin's layup with 7:35 to go. Chris Nsenki made a layup and Damon Heuir later hit a pair of free throws, giving the Thunderbirds their 10-point advantage with just over three minutes left that would mostly evaporate down the stretch.
Trailing 73-66 with 34 seconds to go, UC Davis cut the deficit to four points after a three-pointer by Corbin on the right wing. His second trey of the final minute - after a Southern Utah free throw - made it 74-72 with 13 seconds left. The Aggies pressured the ball on the inbounds, Howley was credited with a steal and UC Davis had a chance to at least tie the game with 11 seconds on the clock. However, Sypken's foot inadvertently touched the sideline after receiving a long inbounds pass from Corbin in the far corner and the Thunderbirds regained possession, eventually holding on for the win.
The Aggies finished 8 fo 25 from beyond the arc and were 15 of 25 from the line but ended up shooting 49 percent from the field after making 57.1 percent in the second half. Corbin added five assists, Ritchart had two blocks and UC Davis committed just 11 turnovers.
Stevenett finished with 18 points while Wade had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Ray Jones, Jr., also had 10 boards while Matt Massey scored 10 points.
UC Davis will return to action on Saturday when it faces Bryant at 4:30 p.m. The Aggies will finish the tournament on Sunday with a 3 p.m. game against the host Aztecs.