Corey Hawkins said his team has to start getting grimy.
UC Davis backcourt mate Ryan Sypkens did. The junior guard from Elk Grove was sporting quite the shiner under his left eye from an errant San Jose State player's elbow Wednesday night.
Sypkens took one for the team, but the Aggies still fell to 1-5 with a 73-64 loss to the Spartans at The Pavilion.
The Aggies are seeing improvement in all areas after a 5-26 season, but as coach Jim Les said after the game, basketball "is a results-driven business."
"We're doing a lot of good things, but we're not consistent doing those good things," Les said.
UCD still has problems in tight games, Les said. Tight games are relatively new for the young Aggies, who have two seniors starters Ryan Howley and Paolo Mancasola.
Trailing by five points with a minute left, UCD took more than 20 seconds to set up a play that resulted in a hurried three-point attempt by Sypkens.
"They were a little unsure out there," Les said of the final minutes.
San Jose State finished with a 9-2 run after Sypkens hit a three-pointer from the left wing to cut the Spartans' lead to 64-62 with 4:05 remaining. Sypkens made five three-pointers and led the Aggies with 18 points. Hawkins, a sophomore had 16.
Spartans guard James Kinney led all scorers with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting. His scoring average rose to 23.4 points per game from 22.8, which was sixth-best in the NCAA going into the game. Kinney almost single-handedly held off a late charge by the Aggies.
A Sypkens three-pointer capped a 7-0 run with less than six minutes left, but Kinney responded with a three-pointer, stole the ball on UCD's next possession and threw down a vicious dunk, accentuated with a little post-dunk swagger.
"We needed that dunk," Kinney said. "It changed the momentum and ignited us down the stretch."
Kinney added a layup and free throw during that final spurt to put away the game.
The Spartans outrebounded the Aggies 42-32, including a 15-8 advantage on the offensive end.
SIU-Edwardsville 75, Sacramento State 57 in Edwardsville, Ill. Leading by 12 points midway through the first half, the Hornets (4-3) went into halftime tied and then were outscored by the Cougars (5-4) by 18 points in the second half.
Sadie Clements made five three-pointers and scored a career-high 19 points to lead Sac State, according to the school's website. Fantasia Hilliard scored 14 points and Megan Kritscher 12 for the Hornets.