Coming off a 25-point loss to Seattle, UC Davis was looking to rebound against Boise State in every sense of the word.
The Aggies beat the Broncos 82-74 Saturday night at the Taco Bell Arena thanks in part to a strong performance on the boards.
“[Rebounding] was one of the main focal points we talked about in preparing for Boise State,” said coach Gary Stewart. “We could ill-afford to give them second and third opportunities. They’re a very good offensive rebounding team.”
The Aggies out-hustled the Broncos 37-28 on the glass, holding Boise State under their season average of 35 boards a game. Despite a slow start (5-for-19 shooting), the Aggies were able to keep the game close for most of the first half before pulling away with six minutes remaining in the opening period.
Down 19-17, the Aggies took the lead on Ryan Sypkens’ three-pointer and then extended the margin with consecutive treys by Dominic Calegari and a layup by Joe Harden. The 11-0 run gave UC Davis a 28-19 lead which became a 36-27 advantage heading into the break.
The Broncos performed better in the second half, actually outscoring the Aggies 47-46, but could not get closer than seven points due to Harden’s hot hand.
After scoring only four points in the first half, Harden scored 20 in the second.
“He was very aggressive and we ran some plays to get him the ball at the basket,” Stewart said. “He did an excellent job.”
Harden’s aggressiveness paid off as he drew several fouls and finished with 10-of-11 shooting from the charity stripe. Harden’s 24 points were second only to Calegari’s 26.
“We liked [Calegari and Harden’s] matchups,” Stewart said. “We had some opportunities down in the interior. Our perimeter players did an excellent job in getting them the ball.”
Ryan Howley and Todd Lowenthal both finished with four assists and Julian Welch chipped in with three. Lowenthal – following a 13-rebound performance in Seattle – tied Harden for a team-high nine boards against the Broncos. The victory gives the Aggies an 11-15 overall record and concludes their non-conference schedule for this season.
“It was a good win for us,” Stewart said. “Any time you can go on the road and win a game this late in the year against a team that’s just two years removed from the NCAA tournament, it’s a good win. It’s the time of year you want to get some momentum and sustain it.”
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at email@example.com.