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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Aggies soar over visiting Hawks for a victory

Four days after allowing the Portland Pilots to run up 100 points against them in a road loss, the UC Davis Aggies played suffocating defense and held Holy Names University to 54 points in their first regular-season victory.

Noticeably absent from pre-game warmups was junior guard Corey Hawkins, who showed up in an Aggies polo shirt despite no prior mention of any injury.

“We just aren’t sure,” said head coach Jim Les. “We have some more testing to do, so its just at this time we aren’t quite sure when [Hawkins] will be back and when he will be ready.”

Also absent from the starting lineup were senior guard Ryan Sypkens and junior forward Iggy Nujic, who were replaced by freshman forward Georgi Funtarov and junior guard Avery Johnson.

“We are just trying to look at some different combinations,” coach Les said. “We just want to continue to put guys in roles and challenge them.”

The game began with Holy Names University showing incredibly active hands, forcing the Aggies into eight turnovers within the first eight minutes. Senior guard Tyler Fry, the star of the Hawks team, managed two steals and five points in the first five minutes alone.

For the first 15 minutes of the game, the Hawks stayed extremely competitive with the Aggies, using a zone defense to confuse the UC Davis offense while hoisting up more shots from beyond the arc than anywhere else on the floor.

In response, the Aggies began to trap the Holy Names point guard at half court and play a much more aggressive defensive style. Sypkens came in and hit two straight shots from three-point land with around three minutes left in the half, leading UC Davis to an unsteady five-point lead at halftime.

If the first half was a nail-biter, the second half was anything but, as the Aggies thoroughly dominated the Hawks.

Sypkens hit two more threes within the first few minutes of the second half and UC Davis only allowed Holy Names to take two three-pointers in the first eight minutes of the second half.

The Hawks were held scoreless for a six-and-a-half-minute stretch in the second half, allowing the Aggies to build an insurmountable lead.

“In the first half, we were letting guys shoot open shots that are shooters and once we figured that out, that helped us a lot,” senior guard Ryan Sypkens said. “I think they were kind of on fire in the beginning, making some long shots.”

Senior forward Josh Ritchart and Sypkens continually feasted upon the zone defense which had confused the Aggies throughout the first half. Ritchart had two dunks on back-to-back possessions with 11:20 left in the game, capitalizing on miscommunications within the Holy Names defense.

The final score of the contest was 80 to 54 as UC Davis outscored the Hawks by 21 points in the second half.

For the Aggies, the clear leader of the game was Ryan Sypkens who led the team with 25 points on 70 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Sypkens fell one three-point field goal short of tying the UC Davis single game record, a record he shares with redshirt senior guard Tyler Les.

UC Davis also got considerable help from Ritchart, who put up 16 points and seven rebounds, as well as freshman guard Brynton Lemar who added 11 points and six assists.

Holy Names was only able to break 50 points due to the efforts of senior guard Tyler Fry who scored 27 points to go along with five steals. Fry was the only Holy Name player to score in double digits and seemed to be the linchpin of the pesky Hawks defense.

Once again, the Aggies have had success against an inferior opponent, but must look forward towards the tougher task of taking on Utah in Salt Lake City.



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