UC Davis traveled across the Causeway on Tuesday night to face off against rival Sacramento State Hornets. The Aggies returned to Davis with their first victory of the season and some serious bragging rights.
This game exemplified the explosiveness of the Aggie offense. Practically every player came away with a new personal record of some impressive statistic.
Sophomore Corey Hawkins continued to establish his dominance, shooting 9-15 and hitting a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Hawkins’ 29 points earned him his second consecutive title as top scorer. The sophomore has now scored 59 points in two games for the Aggies.
Hawkins’ impressive stats also earned him national recognition this week. According to ESPN, Hawkins is the nation’s eighth-best scorer at the moment.
However, this offensive clinic did not start until the second half. UC Davis ended the first half with 24 points on the board, trailing the Hornets by nine.
To start the second period, the Aggies went on a run. They scored 63 points in the second half to pull away and win the game by 11 points.
Sophomore J.T. Adenrele followed Hawkins’ lead and set a personal best for himself in the process. He went 9-16 and hit his only free throw of the game to finish with a career-best 19 points.
“This was a fun game to play in, and a good backyard battle. Games like this are what this [rivalry] is all about,” said Adenrele.
Junior Ryan Sypkens scored all of his 15 points from behind the three-point arc. Sypkens now leads the team in 3-point shots, making 15-22 attempts thus far in the season. Sypkens scored half of the team’s free throws that evening, with junior Tyler Les and Hawkins making the other five.
UC Davis combined to shoot a perfect 13-13 from the free throw line.
Defensively, the Aggies were very impressive. They held the Hornets to 76 points on the night and won the total rebound advantage 45-31, with 34 of those rebounds coming from the defensive side of the paint.
Senior Ryan Howley continues to exhibit his rebounding skill, pulling in 15 boards in the game, making Tuesday night the first time he has ever earned double digit rebounds in a game. Howley now has 37 rebounds through the first three games of the season, which means he is averaging 12.3 rebounds per game. That average earned him the fifth-place rank on ESPN’s top-10 national rebounders list.
Head coach Jim Les emphasized the importance of rebounding, and Howley’s success has not gone unrecognized by his teammates.
“As our leading rebounder, Howley helps other players take easy shots. I cannot say enough about what he means to this team,” said sophomore Corey Hawkins.
The Aggies have struggled on the road for a long time and this victory finally brought an end to the road game drought.
“We stepped up in the second half, made plays and were the more physical team throughout the second half. Our team can put points on the board, but our scoring runs were ignited by our defense,” Les said.
Les was impressed by his team’s ability to execute the game plan they had practiced throughout the week.
“The coaches challenged our players to play solid defense, and they stepped up in a big way,” he said.
The Aggies continue their road trip in upcoming games against Nevada and Idaho before returning home Dec. 5 to face off against San Jose State.
KIM CARR can be reached at email@example.com.