The UC Davis men’s basketball team was handed two tough losses in the final weekend of the regular season, putting the Aggies on the back foot as they prepare for their first postseason contest in two years.
The Aggies could not dig out of an early hole on Thursday night at Cal Poly and lost 69-56. It was a similar story, though to a greater extent, in Saturday’s season finale 90-43 loss at UC Santa Barbara.
The two contests were the 10th and 11th in Southern California for UC Davis this season; and the Aggies have lost all 11. UC Davis had a single road victory this regular season, Feb. 18 at Northern Arizona.
The Aggies finish the 2011-12 regular season with a 5-25 record, 3-13 in Big West Conference play.
The men’s basketball program last finished a season with five or fewer wins in 2006-07 when under previous Head Coach Gary Stewart. The Aggies have never previously lost 25 games in a season.
Despite the season’s struggles, UC Davis will have a postseason contest on Thursday night for the first time since 2010. The eighth seed Aggies will take regular season champions Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament in Anaheim, Calif.
Winners of four out of their last six tests before the weekend, the Aggies were looking to gain some momentum heading into the postseason tournament.
Instead, the Aggies were shown what it takes to consistently succeed in the Big West.
Thursday— Cal Poly 69, UC Davis 56
When the Mustangs visited the Pavilion in January, UC Davis played one of its most energetic defensive halves of the season, leading to a 14-point halftime lead.
On the road Thursday, it was completely different effort from the Aggies.
Empty offensive possessions for UC Davis carried over to the defensive end of the floor as the Mustangs shot 46 percent from the field in the first half and held a 33-18 lead at the break.
The Aggies were 0-11 on three point attempts in the first half and finished just 4-20 in the game. Four three pointers tied a season low for UC Davis.
Cal Poly lead by as many as 25 points with 11 minutes reaming before the Aggies made some field goals down the stretch, lowering the final deficit.
Freshman J.T. Adenrele was the lone bright spot for UC Davis, scoring a career-high 16 points and blocking four shots before fouling out with just over two minutes remaining.
“As a team defensively we were a shell of what we were at our place against Cal Poly and a shell of what we were [in our last win] against Fullerton,” Head Coach Jim Les said. “This was disappointing and a step back across the board.”
Saturday — UC Santa Barbara 90, UC Davis 43
The Aggies were beat up for 40 minutes in the season finale at the home of back-to-back Big West tournament winner UC Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos started their five seniors in the final game of the season in the Thunderdome, and that group quickly jumped out to a 12-4 lead against the visiting Aggies.
UC Davis was down by seven with 12 minutes remaining in the first half when UCSB went on a 29-2 run, stretching the lead to 43-15. The Aggies would never recover, and the deficit was never less than 30 points in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Forty-three points was the second lowest scoring output for UC Davis this season, and the 47-point loss was the worst of the year.
“[UC Santa Barbara] is playing well here at the end of the season,” Les said. “That’s a good basketball team [and] I’m not sure our best effort would have got it done.”
Adenrele was again the high scorer for UC Davis, tying his career high from earlier in the weekend with a second 16-point performance.
CAELUM SHOVE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.