Area men’s college basketball fans can watch both Sacramento State and UC Davis on Saturday.
The Aggies (3-4) host Idaho (3-3) at 2 p.m. at The Pavilion, and the Hornets (2-2) play UC Irvine (4-3) at 7 p.m. at The Nest.
UC Irvine features the tallest college player in the nation, 7-foot-6, 290-pound freshman Mamadou Ndiaye.
The native of Dakar, Senegal, already has 26 blocks, and his best performance came in the Anteaters’ 86-72 upset of Washington. The NBA prospect with a reported 8-1 wingspan had 18 points, nine blocks and eight rebounds against the Huskies.
He is one of three 7-footers on UC Irvine’s roster. Freshman Ioannis Dimakopoulos is 7-2, and sophomore Conor Clifford is 7 feet. Clifford is redshirting this season.
But the Anteaters’ best player is former Sacramento High standout Will Davis II, a 6-8 junior forward. The preseason All-Big West Conference selection leads UC Irvine in scoring (13.0 points) and rebounding (7.7).
Davis holds the UC Irvine single-season shot-block record with 88, set last season. He broke an 18-year-old school record with 55 blocks as a freshman. He has 10 this season.
The UC Davis-Idaho game will feature a matchup of two seniors who have scored more than 1,000 career points.
Idaho forward Stephen Madison passed the milestone Nov. 21 with 19 points in the Vandals’ 88-74 loss to Portland. The Aggies’ Ryan Sypkens (Franklin) passed the mark with 10 points in Tuesday’s 73-67 loss to visiting Sac State.
The Aggies routed the Spartans 95-61. San Jose State (4-3) had been averaging nearly 87 points.
From late in the first half to early in the second half, UC Davis outscored the Spartans 24-0.
The Aggies’ 1-3 record is misleading, with losses to No. 6 Stanford, USC and Pacific, which won last season’s Big West Conference regular-season championship.
Against San Jose State, the Aggies were led by Alyson Doherty, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in 18 minutes. The Aggies outrebounded the Spartans 51-45,
“In the past two years, I feel we’ve relied on the three (point shot) heavily and didn’t have that strength of the post game,” UC Davis coach Jenn Gross said.
Gross was pleased that 6-1 sophomore forward Lauren Beyer (Bradshaw Christian) had a strong game off the bench. Beyer, who has missed the last two years with injuries, made all five shots and finished with 10 points and three rebounds in 13 minutes.
“She’s gaining confidence every day, and I think her minutes are going to show that,” Gross said. “She’s going to provide us more help in the post.”
Gross also said it was odd watching rival coach Jamie Craighead leading a different team. Craighead coached at Sac State before becoming the San Jose State coach in September.
“It’s going to be strange not to have that Causeway rivalry with her, but we’ll continue to play San Jose,” Gross said.
UC Davis plays in the Cal Poly Thanksgiving tournament this weekend, Friday against USF and Saturday against Akron.
Freshmen Hallie Gennett and Gigi Hascheff combined for 38 points; senior Alle Moreno added 17 points and seven rebounds, and junior Takara Burse had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Earlier in the week, Sac State coach Bunky Harkleroad added Derrick Florence to his staff. Florence was an assistant women’s coach last season at Cal State Los Angeles.