UC Davis had lost 48 straight games to Pacific entering Saturday night’s contest.
Make that 49.
The Aggies fell to the Tigers 77-61 thanks in part to a first half where they scored just 15 points. UC Davis shot just 4-of-20 from the field, 1-of-8 from beyond the arc and 6-of-12 from the charity stripe in the opening session.
“We got off to a disastrous start,” said coach Gary Stewart. “We weren’t aggressive. We were very tentative. We didn’t move with a purpose, either the basketball or ourselves.”
Pacific jumped out to a 7-0 early on – a lead it would never relinquish. The Aggies closed to within 16-8 with 9:55 left in the first half, but would get no closer. The Tigers closed the opening period on a 20-7 run after that. Pacific did most of its damage on the interior, getting 16 points in the paint for the half.
The Tigers also outperformed the Aggies on the glass, snatching a 39 to 24 rebounding advantage, including 14 offensive boards. Pacific ended the game with 10 second-chance points.
“Pacific got to every loose ball on the floor,” Stewart said. “You can’t give a team two and three and four attempts and expect to do well.”
The game was televised on ESPNU. Stewart said playing on the larger stage might have affected his team.
“I think we had a little bit of stage fright,” he said. “Emotionally, we didn’t handle the environment very well. Any time you’re tentative in an athletic environment, you’re not going to do well.”
The Aggies took the floor in the second half determined to improve on their performance of the first 20 minutes.
“At that point we settled down,” Stewart said. “We got back to what we needed to do. We got aggressive in the second half.”
The Aggies exceeded the number of field goals they had in the first half just five minutes into the second period on a Mark Payne three-pointer. UC Davis shot the ball much better in the second half, converting 59 percent of its attempts from the floor.
Pacific responded to Payne’s score by going on a 10-0 run to extend its lead to 54-27. The Tigers would lead by as many as 28 before the Aggies put together a strong finish, outscoring the Tigers 32-20 over the final 11 minutes.
“There’s a lot to learn from this,” Stewart said. “We have to put 40 minutes together, not just from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint. We’ve got to get better on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to get back to doing some of the little things for long periods of time.
Joe Harden, who went scoreless in the first half, scored 19 points in the second half to lead all scorers. Payne, the only other Aggie in double figures, had 15.
The loss drops the Aggies to 7-11 overall and 3-3 in Big West Conference play. They are 1-7 on the road this season.
The Aggies travel to UC Riverside Thursday to take on the Highlanders.
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at email@example.com.