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  • Brian Baer /

    UC Davis fans cheer during the first half of Saturday night’s game, which was televised by ESPN2.

  • Brian Baer /

    UC Santa Barbara's Mitch Brewe (21) and UC Davis’ Darius Graham (Sacramento High School) chase a loose ball.

Former area prep star ruins night for UC Davis and near sellout crowd

Published: Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014 - 10:59 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 2, 2014 - 7:50 am

Michael Bryson is trying to help UC Santa Barbara win the Big West Conference title and reach the NCAA Tournament.

So the former Foothill High School star had no problem ruining Saturday night for UC Davis and its fans, who packed the Pavilion for a nationally televised game.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard scored 19 points to lead the Gauchos to a 67-54 win in front of an announced near-sellout crowd of 5,227 and an ESPN2 audience.

But even Bryson admitted to being a little wide-eyed at the atmosphere.

“Davis brought a great fan base tonight,” Bryson said. “This is as close as I get to home. So I was able to have a lot of family, friends and crowd support out here.”

The former Bee All-Metro first-team standout said his mother, Audra, spent most of the week getting tickets for family and friends.

While Bryson led UC Santa Barbara in scoring, Gauchos coach Bob Williams said the player’s biggest contribution was grabbing seven rebounds. That helped UCSB (19-8, 10-4) to a 43-20 advantage on the boards.

“He played well tonight,” Williams said of Bryson, UC Santa Barbara’s No. 2 scorer and No. 3 rebounder. “I really like to see him attack the rim because he’s such a dynamic player.”

Alan Williams, the Gauchos’ 6-7, 275-pound inside force, spent most of the game in foul trouble. The leader in Big West scoring and NCAA rebounding had eight points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes.

The Aggies (9-20, 4-10) couldn’t get untracked, falling behind 9-0 and never leading. They shot 38.6 percent from the field, 21.1 percent from three-point range and 59.3 percent from the foul line.

Corey Hawkins had 16 points but was the only Aggie in double figures.

UC Davis’ shooting was a far cry from what it was in Thursday’s 85-73 home win over Cal Poly, which included a sizzling 13 of 24 from three-point range.

“We didn’t shoot it well,” UC Davis coach Jim Les said. “I wish we (had) saved a few from the other night.”

Especially considering the festive atmosphere in the Aggies’ home finale.

Students, some with their bodies painted blue and gold, poured into the Pavilion when the doors opened 90 minutes before the game. Many had been tailgating in the parking lot.

Fans danced, waved blue-and-gold streamers, held up signs, and chanted and sang loudly as they tried to draw the attention of television cameras.

“There was a buzz on campus all week,” said Ryan Dimino, a junior linebacker for the UC Davis football team. “It was neat to see the students tailgating in the parking lot and getting hyped up and super rowdy. It’s great that our school is getting exposure on national television.”

Ryan Sypkens (Franklin High School), the Aggies’ lone senior, was honored before tipoff, then made three three-pointers for a career total of 310. He’s two threes from breaking the all-time Big West record.

“I really felt the support from the community before and during the game,” Sypkens, who scored nine points, said after receiving an ovation from the crowd once he left the court in the final minute. “I cannot thank them enough.”

The game also marked the annual return of Williams, UC Davis’ former coach now in his 16th season at UCSB.

Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

Read more articles by Bill Paterson

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