The UC Davis Aggie Pack was in full force this weekend, belting the “I believe the Aggies will win” cheer repeatedly throughout the games against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly in the Pavilion.
The chanting was never louder then in the closing seconds of Saturday’s match-up against Cal Poly.
Down 67-65 with 9.4 seconds left, the Aggies had a chance to go the length of the floor and either send the game to overtime or win.
Point guard Tyrell Corbin took route one, dribbling straight down the court before coming off a screen and trying to get to the basket.
Blocked off, he turned and passed it out Josh Ritchart in the left corner.
Ritchart took the space in front of him, dribbling once before shooting a running floater from six feet.
The rebound fell to Harrison DuPont, whose wild tip went off the backboard and came to Eddie Miller.
Miller got his desperation tip to go off the glass and in, but the buzzer and red light on the backboard had gone off.
No basket, Cal Poly wins.
That final play was the end of a disappointing weekend for the Aggies, who were crushed by UC Santa Barbara just two days earlier.
The weekend’s two losses dropped the Aggies to 1-19 overall, 0-8 in Big West Conference play. UC Davis sits alone in last place in the league.
Thursday — UC Santa Barbara 86, UC Davis 59
The Aggies were undermanned as they faced the Gauchos.
Junior guard Ryan Howley was not in the starting lineup for the first time all season against UC Santa Barbara due to injury. Howley is the team’s leading rebounder this season. He did not play in either game over the weekend.
Ritchart was also out against the Gauchos with the flu.
The loss of the two starters showed in the Aggies’ game, especially defensively and on the boards.
UC Davis was out-rebounded 45-23 in the contest and gave up their third-highest point total of the season.
UC Santa Barbara had 43 points in the paint and 20 second-chance points, compared to 20 and zero for the Aggies, respectively.
“I thought we did a poor job of defensive rebounding to open the game,” head coach Jim Les said. “We got some stops early and just couldn’t come up with the first rebound which led to some easy put backs for them and got them going offensively.”
On the other end, it was a struggle for UC Davis offensively.
UC Santa Barbara’s zone defense kept the Aggies at bay, with only three players scoring more than six points for UC Davis.
Tyler Les was the high scorer for the Aggies with 16 points, making four of ten from behind the arc.
Saturday — Cal Poly 67, UC Davis 65
The Aggies played their best first half of the season on Saturday, jumping all over Cal Poly defensively.
Starting in a zone, UC Davis played with a defensive energy that it hasn’t had all year. The Aggies were picking up the ball well outside the three-point arc, trapping and helping, and rotating back on every possession.
The energy was rewarded early on when UC Davis jumped out to a 7-0 lead. After 14 minutes of play the Aggies lead 28-11 and they took a 14-point lead into halftime.
Cal Poly slowly chipped away at the lead throughout the second frame before taking their first lead of the game with just over two minutes to go.
The Aggies didn’t appear fazed, continuing to play tough defense and coming up with a do-or-die stop on the final Mustang possession of the game.
In the end, the shot just wouldn’t fall, as the Aggies failed to score at the end of regulation and were saddled with the defeat.
“Their effort was outstanding especially on the defensive end of the floor,” Les said of his team. “I thought the defensive intensity propelled us to doing some really good things offensively.”
Eddie Miller was the high scorer for UC Davis with 16 points, tying his second highest total of the season.
Four Aggies scored in double digits and Corbin added nine points, part of the most balanced offensive attack the team has had this year.
“I told the guys that their effort was certainly worthy of a victory,” Les said. “We just came up a little bit short.
“We keep on this process and playing as hard as they did tonight, I told them we’ll be celebrating in the locker room before too long.”
CAELUM SHOVE can be reached at email@example.com.