Local college basketball notes: Les wants more defense out of UC Davis

Look for a better defensive effort or perhaps a bald Jim Les when the UC Davis men’s basketball team hosts Nevada on Saturday night.

The Aggies (3-6) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, including home losses to Sacramento State and Idaho.

“We are going to get better defensively and we are going to execute better defensively or I’ll probably lose my hair and voice trying,” the silver-haired Aggies coach said Saturday after falling 80-76 to Idaho.

The Aggies held a 43-30 halftime lead after limiting the Vandals to 33 percent shooting through the first 20 minutes. But Idaho shot 49 percent, including 9 of 14 3-pointers, after the break.

Guard Connor Hill scored 29 points and Stephen Madison posted a double double with 15 points and 16 rebounds for Idaho, coached by Del Oro High School graduate Don Verlin.

Against the Hornets four days earlier, the Aggies led by 10 midway through the first half, only to see Sac State rally for a 73-67 win.

“We talked all along about defending our home court, and this is two in a row that we let get away from us,” Les said. “Until our defensive effort changes, our results aren’t going to change.”

Things didn’t get better Monday. The Aggies lost 77-53 in Seattle.

Senior Josh Ritchart had 14 points against the Redhawks, moving him to within 33 points of becoming the 20th Aggie to score 1,000 or more for his career.

The 6-foot-9 forward has been a bright spot for the otherwise struggling Aggies. His strong performances landed him a spot on College Hoops Daily’s All-Big West Conference Team of the Month for November this week.

Ritchart, the conference leader in 3-point field-goal percentage with his .562 (18 of 32) clip, is also fifth in scoring with 17.3 points per game and 11th with 6.6 rebounds per game.

Nevada (3-5) enters Saturday’s game having lost to then-No. 19 UCLA 105-84 and Missouri 83-70 in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Saturday’s game will be part of UCD’s annual holiday toy drive. Fans who donate an unwrapped new toy upon arrival at the Pavilion can purchase general admission seats for $5 each.

Hornets men – Coach Brian Katz would have liked to bottle the first 16 minutes of Saturday’s game, when Sac State took a 32-22 lead over UC Irvine in front of a nearly packed house at The Nest.

Then the Anteaters went on a 26-4 run and coasted to a 79-53 victory. The 26-point margin of defeat was the Hornets’ worst at home since 1999.

The game proved a good draw during a holiday weekend, not only because UC Irvine is favored to win the Big West Conference and advance to the postseason, but also because the Anteaters have the nation’s tallest player in 7-foot-6, 290-pound Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal.

The towering freshman put on an entertaining second-half show after being a non-factor in the first half.

Ndiaye finished with eight points (all dunks), five rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Former Sac High standout Will Davis had seven points and a game-high nine rebounds for UC Irvine, which beat Washington earlier in the season.

Continuing an ambitious nonconference schedule, Sac State takes on UTEP (4-4) on the road Saturday.

It’s the first meeting between the schools. UTEP, headed by former NBA coach Tim Floyd, lost 67-63 to then-No. 2 Kansas on Saturday in the Bahamas.