The UC Davis men’s basketball 2011-12 season came to a close on Thursday when the Aggies were eliminated from the Big West Conference Tournament by would-be champion Long Beach State.
The 80-46 loss brought the Aggies’ final season record to 5-26; which is the most losses in a season in school history. After the game on Thursday, Long Beach State won two more games in the tournament, defeating UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night in the championship to seal its spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The final game for UC Davis, which was truly a mismatch between the eighth and first seeded teams, showed Head Coach Jim Les what he wants to see from his program in upcoming seasons.
“I have a lot of respect for coach Monson and the program that he’s built,” Les said. “[He had] the patience to build a program and do it the right way, so I’m encouraged by that. [Long Beach State] is certainly one of the models we want to look at and where we want UC Davis basketball to be in four or five years.”
Long Beach State, the regular season, outplayed UC Davis for the third time this season. For the Aggies, it was the second loss in four days by 34 or more points.
UC Davis was behind from the start in its first postseason game in two years as the 49ers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead. The Aggies brought the game to 15-12 midway through the first half, but Long Beach State took over from there. They steadily increased the lead to 20 points at halftime.
The Aggies could not cut the deficit to below 25 points in the final 15 minutes of the game.
“They showed why they’re a really good basketball team,” Les said. “We tried to take [back-to back Big West Player of the Year] Casper Ware out of production and other guys stepped up. They’re sound offensively [and] they rebound the basketball very well. My hat is off to them.”
Senior Eddie Miller was the high scorer for UC Davis in his final game as an Aggie. He scored 17 points and tallied three rebounds in 37 minutes of playing time. The Aggies’ other senior, Adam Malik, scored five points in 12 minutes.
Sophomore guard Tyler Les made three three-pointers in the game, bringing his season total to 82. That number puts him second all-time in the UC Davis record book for three-pointers made in a season, one behind the record 83.
Despite the blowout loss to end the season, the Aggies can head into the offseason feeling optimistic about the future. After an 18-game losing streak in the opening months of the season, UC Davis was able to win four out of six games during a 16-day stretch in February.
The Aggies will return four starters next season, and are losing only the two seniors. A core of this year’s freshman and sophomores will all return, having gained a much needed season of playing time and experience. The team will also be bolstered by the return of Ryan Sypkens, who missed all but four games this season with a torn ACL. Ryan Howley will return for his senior season as well after missing the final 14 games of the year due to injury.
“We have high hopes for next year,” Tyler said. “We’re excited about some pieces we’ve got coming back and also some new comers. We’re going to take some positives from this year and correct some negatives and give it all we got next year.”
CAELUM SHOVE can be reached at email@example.com.