Shattering a four-game losing streak against the Spartans, UC Davis finished the night with a monumental win against San Jose State that proved to be not only entertaining, but historical as well. The win marked the first time in the past 102 years that the men’s basketball team has gone 6-0 for a season.
The Aggies gave a great performance in a game that ended 70-56 when the final buzzer went off. They held a solid lead the entire game, largely due to the efforts of senior forward Josh Ritchart who led with 21 points and senior guard Corey Hawkins who scored 20 points.
The four formidable seniors on the team – Corey Hawkins, Josh Ritchart and guards Tyler Les and Avery Johnson – bring experience and calmness to the game when challenges arise.
“We have experience,” said Hawkins. “We have experience losing, and we have experience winning….We take it upon ourselves to set the bar high.”
Ritchart, who had been “struggling early on” this year after finishing the 2013-14 season with an injury, said that recently it has “all started to come together” thanks to support from his teammates and coaches.
After scoring their first 15 points, UC Davis had a difficult time directing the ball into the basket, which allowed San Jose to catch up to 14 points. The Aggie’s game-long lead was placed in jeopardy during the first half when the Spartans prevented them from scoring for nine straight possessions.
“I [have to] give it to San Jose State; they had some aggressiveness and got after us and forced some turnovers,” said head coach Jim Les. “I still think we have room to grow, and that’s what’s exciting for us as coaches. You can raise the bar and challenge them to get better.”
At the start of the second half, the Aggies extended their lead, at one occasion sporting an 18 point advantage. Ritchart and senior guard Avery Johnson had the most rebounds of both teams, with 8 and 7 respectively. UC Davis trumped San Jose in rebounds, 36-29.
In an effort to redeem their point deficit, the Spartans switched to full court press for a short time in the second half. The Aggies struggled immediately with Hawkins running the point, but quickly found their rhythm.
“I thought it was a little bit of an anomaly,” said Les. “[Sophomore guard] Darius [Graham] is our one-man press break a lot of time….Once we got him in the game I thought we handled it much better.”
Surprisingly, the looming potential of tying a school record by reaching 6-0 didn’t seem to affect the players’ attitudes towards the game.
“No one really thought about it,” said Ritchart. “We’re just trying to take it one game at a time.”
The Aggies will have to focus if they want to continue performing as well as they have been doing. Coach Les puts it best, saying, “This is a really good win and a really good start to the season, but tomorrow we start to focus on Idaho.”
The Aggies will travel to take on Idaho on Dec. 6.