Three things are apparent to be a successful basketball team shoot well, defend well and take care of the ball.
UC Davis did all three badly in the first half Tuesday night. But the Aggies atoned in the second half en route to their first victory of the season, 87-76 over host Sacramento State.
"We have a team that can put points on the board and do it," UC Davis coach Jim Les said.
In a tale of two halves, the Aggies (1-2) handed the Hornets (3-1) their first loss of the season in the 111th meeting between the rivals. The road team has won the last four matchups.
In the first half, Sac State seemed to be in control, leading 33-24 at halftime after forcing 15 turnovers and limiting UCD's leading scorer, Corey Hawkins, to six points.
With a little tinkering on defense and more aggressiveness on the boards, the Aggies exploded for 63 second-half points, including 23 by Hawkins.
Hawkins lived up to his nickname of "Buckets," dubbed that because teammate J.T. Adenrele said the sophomore "is always scoring."
"I think it was our defense," Hawkins said of the turnaround, in which the Aggies went on a 14-0 run in just over four minutes early in the second half to take a double-digit lead.
"We started shutting guys down, stopped giving them open shots and rebounded the ball," Hawkins added.
Sac State entered the game riding high off a comeback road victory over Pacific-12 Conference opponent Utah on Friday.
The Aggies, on the other hand, were coming off tough losses at Oklahoma State and at home to Northern Arizona.
Les knew this was a big momentum swing for his team in front of a standing-room-only announced crowd of 1,269 at the Nest.
"This was great," Les said. "I thought this was the old backyard brawl. The intensity in the building was great, and this is a great rivalry for Sacramento and for us. It is a big win for this young team."
Sac State coach Brian Katz was quick to point out what led to his team's loss.
"Give them credit. They played well with an aggressive attitude, and they had a good game plan," Katz said.
Now, the Aggies are riding high after the rivalry win in the Causeway Cup.
"It's great. We love playing here," Adenrele said. "It's a neighborhood battle, and you got to love the game. This is what it is all about."