DAVIS, Calif. - Josh Ritchart scored 21 points, Corey Hawkins added 20 and UC Davis never trailed visiting San Josè State during a 70-56 non-conference men's basketball victory on Wednesday night, sending the Aggies to their best start in more than a century.
UC Davis improved to 6-0 for the first time since the 1912-13 season when the Aggies only played eight games while finishing 7-1. The win was the Aggies' first over the Spartans since a 66-55 victory during the 1974-75 season, snapping a four-game losing streak to SJSU.
Wednesday's win also marked the second time in as many games that UC Davis led from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
"Our character, which has been built on defense and rebounding, kept us in the game and allowed up to build our lead," said head coach Jim Les following the game.
"I told the guys to enjoy this win, even though some players are heading to study hall and writing some papers tonight."
Rashad Muhammad scored 20 points for the Spartans, who fell to 1-7. He was the only SJSU player in double figures. Ritchart picked up his first 20-point game of the year and eighth of his career for UC Davis while Hawkins had his third of the season and 26th overall.
UC Davis jumped to a 10-2 lead in the first six minutes of the game before a pair of free throws by Muhammad with 8:36 left in the half brought the Spartans to within 15-14. But Ritchart answered by scoring the next six Aggie points, capping his surge with a three-pointer, and Avery Johnson added a trey as UC Davis put together a 9-0 run to open a 10-point lead at 24-14.
The Aggies led 31-21 at halftime and built the lead to as many as 18 points (41-23) in the second half. The Spartans didn't get closer than 10 points for the final 24 minutes of the game.
UC Davis held San Josè State to 41 pct. from the floor and just 24 percent (5 of 21) from three-point. The Aggies out-rebounded the Spartans, 36-29, made 11 of 25 (44 pct.) from beyond the arc and shot 49 pct.overall.
In the second half alone, the Aggies shot a blistering 12 of 20 (60 pct.) to protect their double-digit advantage throughout the final 20 minutes.
Both Ritchart and Hawkins hit four three-pointers and combined to go 5 for 5 from the line. Ritchart added a game-high eight rebounds, Johnson added seven, one shy of his career high, and both he and point guard Darius Graham had four assists.
"This group is building a unique culture where everyday, everyone comes to practice with a workmanlike mentality. This helps everyone become better players and helps the team become stronger. All we have asked the players, as coaches, is to work hard and become coachable.
"Even though the guys are aware of the team's start, players are constantly asking me about how opponents are shooting from two and three... that's a really good sign about what is important to them and what the team values," added Les.
The Aggies, who are 4-0 on Hamilton Court and 2-0 on the road, will put their unblemished record on the line at Idaho on Saturday for a 2 p.m. non-conference game. Men's basketball will return home to face Eastern Illinois next Tuesday - the team's final home game until Jan. 3.
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