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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Aggies fall to visiting Gauchos in ESPN2 game

With the bright lights shining, the UC Davis men’s basketball squad failed to shoot the ball well and fell to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, 67-54.

The Aggies missed 11 free throws and made only four of their 19 three-pointers on the night, leading to a 13-point loss.

Coming into the game, coach Jim Les and the UC Davis Aggies keyed in on UCSB junior forward Alan Williams, who has averaged 21.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game this season.

“I’m going to lose some sleep tonight trying to figure it out, trying to come up with a plan [to stop Williams],” said Les before the Aggies played UCSB.

Apparently, Les managed to come up with something as they performed admirably against Williams. He battled foul trouble throughout the night, picking up two quick fouls to start the second half before fouling out with 5:40 left in the game. On the night, Williams scored just eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds, albeit in a short 16 minutes.

Instead, it was sophomore guard Michael Bryson who did much of the heavy lifting for the Gauchos. He finished two points shy of tying his season high in points, scoring 19 points while adding seven rebounds and two steals.

Seldom-used sophomore forward Sam Beeler also came in and played 17 huge minutes with Williams in foul trouble, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots.

UC Davis was able to defend well for much of the game. They held UC Santa Barbara to 37.5 percent shooting from the field in the first half, along with 28.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc on the night.

The Aggies struggled where they typically do, on the boards. Williams and Beeler grabbed a combined 17 rebounds in 33 minutes, almost equaling the 20 total boards snagged by the Aggies. Meanwhile, the Gauchos also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds.

Where UC Davis lost the game, however, had little to do with the Gauchos. They shot themselves in the foot consistently, missing the first shot of a one-and-one free throw opportunity several times. They also missed multiple wide-open three-pointers, which could have helped them to spark a run.

In the game, the Aggies made only 21.1 percent of their threes, far below the 35.9 percent mark that they have made this season. That included a three of 11 effort by senior guard Ryan Sypkens and a zero for two night by junior guard Corey Hawkins.

“I think it was a little nerves,” Les said. “I thought we were a little passive in the first half attacking the zone, but the second half was much better.”

The game was also the last game in the five-year career of Sypkens at UC Davis. Sypkens was named to the All-Big West Freshman Team during the 2009-10 season after averaging 5.2 points per game. He was also named All-Big West Honorable Mention for the 2012-13 season while leading the conference in three-point field goal percentage and three-point field goals made. Sypkens is also only the fourth player in Big West history to make over 300 threes in their career, a mark he reached when the Aggies took on Long Beach State.

“It was honestly a blessing to have a senior night like the way that is was tonight,” Sypkens said of his packed final game in the ARC Pavilion.

UC Davis now has to head down south to take on UC Riverside, a game which will likely decide whether the Aggies will be in attendance at the Big West Conference Championship tournament.

 

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