College Sports

UC Davis men’s basketball faces tall test at Cal


UC Davis men’s basketball will face a tall order Saturday when they travel to Berkeley to play Cal in a nonconference game at Haas Pavilion.

The Bears (7-2) feature 7-foot junior center Kingsley Okorah and 6-11 sophomore forward Ivan Rabb, an Associated Press preseason All-American who passed on this year’s NBA draft despite being a projected lottery pick.

UCD’s tallest regular is 6-8 freshman Mikey Henn.

The Bears also have 7-1 center Kameron Rooks, but the junior isn’t expected to return until January after suffering an early-season knee injury.

Rabb also has been plagued by injuries this season. He missed Cal’s first two games because of a toe injury and was limited offensively in this week’s Pearl Harbor Invitational in Hawaii because of a bum left wrist that has affected his shooting.

He had six points in Cal’s 61-52 win over Princeton on Tuesday and eight points in the Bears’ 60-57 loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday in games that were part of the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Cal has recently had some good news with the return of senior guard Jabari Bird, who had a game-high 22 points and a career-high nine rebounds against Seton Hall. Bird missed six games because of a knee injury.

But the real gem for the Bears has been 5-11 freshman point guard Charlie Moore. The Chicago native leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points a game and set a school single-season record for points by a freshman with 38 in a 75-65 overtime win against UC Irvine.

Before falling to Seton Hall, Cal’s only other loss came 77-65 to San Diego State earlier this month at the Golden 1 Center, the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Aggies beating Sacramento State 81-72 in the first game.

UCD (5-4) lost a heartbreaker last Saturday in Idaho when the Vandals’ Jordan Scott hit a layup at the buzzer to beat the Aggies 68-66. A Brynton Lemar free throw with six seconds left tied it 66-66 in a game that saw 10 lead changes and three ties. Lemar finished with a game-high 19 points and Siler Schneider had 18.

UCD will play its 10th game away from home in its first 11 contests when it plays at North Dakota State on Wednesday.

Hornets’ confidence boost – It was against an NAIA school with one win and a freshman-dominated roster, but the Sac State players and coaches think their 81-54 win over UC Merced last Saturday at The Nest can help jump-start the Hornets (2-6).

Sac State shot a season-best 61.1 percent (33 for 54) and outrebounded the Bobcats 51-17 to move to 2-0 at the Nest this season. The program is 46-14 at home since 2012.

Despite that win, the Hornets still rank 312th in points per game (65.9) entering Saturday’s nonconference game at South Dakota (7-4), but the issue in coach Brian Katz’s eyes is to be consistent defensively for 40 minutes.

“We have had periods where we had leads and then we had periods where our shot selection got a little shaky, and it kind of transferred over to our defense,” Katz said. “We’re telling our guys, ‘Hey, if we have trouble scoring, it doesn’t make a difference. We’ve still got to defend.’ We’re starting to do that.”

Senior forward and tri-captain Nick Hornsby is off to a strong start. He has career highs in points (12.6), rebounds (8.6), field-goal percentage (51.3) and 3-point field goal percentage (45.5).

Aggie women – The UCD women (5-2) will play their final home game of 2016 against Saint Mary’s on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Gaels (4-4) are ranked No. 14 in the women’s mid-major top 25. They have lost to Pacific-12 Conference teams Washington State, Cal and Utah and to 8-0 Boise State.

UCD and Saint Mary’s have enjoyed a spirited rivalry through the years. The Gaels lead all-time 12-11, but the Aggies snapped a four-game losing streak in the series with a 78-71 overtime win over the Gaels last year in Moraga.

Sophomore Morgan Bertsch continues to lead the Aggies in scoring and rebounding.

The 6-4 sophomore had a 20-point, seven-rebound performance in a 77-55 home win over San Diego State last Friday, then had 12 points and seven rebounds in a 68-42 loss at No. 10 Stanford last Sunday.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP