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Monday, October 18, 2021

Gauchos add insult to injury in overtime clash

“To use the word ‘heartbreak’ is not an overstatement.”

That’s the way UC Davis men’s basketball commentator Scott Marsh [cq] characterized Saturday night’s dramatic overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara.

It was so disheartening that coach Gary Stewart couldn’t quite put words to the way he felt after the game.

“I’m trying to muster up some enthusiasm, but I’m bitterly disappointed,” Stewart said.

After a two-loss weekend, the Aggies drop to 8-14 overall, and 3-7 in Big West Conference play, tied for last place.

Thursday – Cal Poly 65, UC Davis 56

The Aggies had a tough time finding a rhythm Thursday night against the Mustangs, shooting just 36 percent from the field and turning the ball over 19 times.

Stewart said it was UC Davis’ lack of focus that hurt so much.

“It was very much a replication of what you saw in Davis,” Stewart said. “There were a lot of turnovers and we had way too many unforced errors. We just had a lack of concentration. We failed to get the ball from one side to the other and we paid for that tonight.”

While the Aggies struggled, Stewart also believed the Mustangs earned the win.

“You don’t get the same look twice against Cal Poly,” he said. “You have to be very aggressive at getting the ball in the interior. We weren’t able to do that tonight. We also weren’t able to get out in transition as much tonight, so credit Cal Poly for that.”

Midway through the second frame, the Mustangs had pulled away for a 53-42 lead. From there, they didn’t look back.

Senior guard Joe Harden [cq] tallied his third double-double of the season, with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Mark Payne [cq] was the only other Aggie to reach double figures, posting 14 points, along with eight rebounds and four assists.

Saturday – UC Santa Barbara 93, UC Davis 86 (OT)

Saturday’s battle against the Gauchos accounted for the second overtime game of the Aggies’ season, but the first trip to the emergency room.

According to Stewart, Harden was taken to the hospital to reset a broken nose.

Harden showed heart on the court, according to Stewart.

“I can’t say enough superlatives about Joe Harden’s effort tonight,” Stewart said. “For a senior to come into this tough an environment and play that well is a credit to him. Our guys did a good job getting him the ball.”

After Harden left the game, Mark Payne [cq] picked up the slack for UC Davis in his absence.

“Mark worked really hard off the ball, and we were able to get him the ball in some areas where he was really effective,” Stewart said.

Payne set a new career-high 33 points on 11 of 16 shooting, sending the game into overtime with the tying basket at the end of regulation.

Stewart said the issue against the Gauchos was the Aggies’ inability to crash the boards.

“It’s disappointing,” Stewart said. “Again, Achilles heel, we didn’t get a rebound. We had multiple opportunities to get one and didn’t.”

Despite the loss, UC Davis shot 62 percent from the field.

For the Aggies, the effort was there, especially in comparison to Thursday’s sluggish loss.

“We had a much better tempo to our offense,” Stewart said. “We got some good looks and some good opportunities. The ball moved from side to side, we were able to attack from the middle and we were aggressive.”

UC Davis is next in action Thursday, when it faces Long Beach State at the Pavilion. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at sports@theaggie.org

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