When a team shoots 20 percent from the field and makes just five baskets in the first half, it’s going to be a long night.
The Aggies looked shell-shocked against Big West Conference rival Pacific as they lost their fifth straight game.
UC Davis had been competitive throughout the losing streak, taking the two prior games into the final few possessions.
The Tigers had a stronger bite, however, clamping down on the Aggies in an 87-54 blowout Saturday night at the Pavilion.
Junior Eddie Miller was all but pleased with the effort after the loss.
“In all honesty, I’m kind of dumbfounded by the loss,” Miller said. “It’s a little bit embarrassing. I think everybody could have given a better effort, and we seemed to come out a bit sluggish. It’s both ends of the floor. It’s not just one tangible thing – it’s a collective effort by the entire group.”
The Aggies had high hopes coming off the 10-day break, which was intended to be a time of rest.
Senior guards Mark Payne and Todd Lowenthal made their much-anticipated return from injury Saturday, though it did little to spark the Aggies.
From the get-go, the Aggie defense looked out of sync, falling behind 10-0 to start the game.
From there, Pacific never looked back, as UC Davis surrendered over 21 points more than their 66.5 season average.
On the defensive end, Payne says the hustle wasn’t quite there.
“We lost focus,” Payne said. “One of our weaknesses has been rebounding, and to get out-rebounded like that just means we’re not fighting. It’s all physicality and a mindset. And we just didn’t have it. I thought we played hard, we just didn’t play too smart.”
UC Davis grabbed 15 defensive boards – a season-low in conference and well below the year average of 23 defensive rebounds per game.
According to coach Gary Stewart, the defense doesn’t deserve all the blame.
“Both sides of the ball were an abomination,” Stewart said. “We were just inefficient in both areas. We’re missing defensive assignments and rotations, and offensively, we don’t have continuity. We look like a team that’s playing our first exhibition game. We’re struggling on both sides of the ball, and we don’t have an identity.”
The Aggies shot 19 percent from the field in the first half, finding themselves in a 44-14 rut going into the intermission.
In the second frame, UC Davis picked up the slack, shooting 47 percent from the field and racking up 40 total points.
Still, the hole didn’t get any shallower for the Aggies.
The Tigers shot 70 percent from beyond the arc in the second half, putting up 21 points on triples alone.
Pacific’s Jose Rivera came alive in the second frame, going 4-for-4 from distance and leading the Tigers with 18 points on the game.
While the Aggies struggled on both ends of the court, Stewart says the Tigers did everything right.
“We played against a team that played exceedingly well, and we didn’t play very well,” Stewart said. “[Pacific] took advantage of that, which good teams do. We have to now find a response to that. If we want to do some things in this conference, we’re going to have to play better. That’s the bottom line.”
UC Davis is next in action Thursday at the Pavilion to host UC Riverside at 7 p.m.
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at email@example.com.