GAME NOTES: The Furman Paladins and the UC Davis Aggies meet up in non- conference action as both programs attempt to get their seasons back on track on Monday evening.
Furman, coming off a 90-60 blowout loss to California on the road on Dec. 28, has lost four of its last six games, and will play its second consecutive game in California coming off the team's winter holiday break.
UC Davis finally snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over Air Force, 80-74, back on Dec. 21. The Aggies lost two overtime games in that seven-game losing skid, including a triple-overtime bout against San Jose State. The Aggies did string together two straight wins earlier in the season, and will look to do so again at home, where the team still has a losing record.
The Paladins were dismantled by California Saturday, losing by 30 points to the Pac-12 team. Five Golden Bears players scored double figures in the contest, and as a team shot over 60 percent from the floor. William Gates Jr. scored a team-high 13 points against Cal, which is the first time this season the freshman has led the team in scoring. In Furman's last win on Dec. 20 against Liberty, Paladins top scorer Stephen Croone poured in a career-high 40 points.
Croone averages 20.3 ppg for Furman on 50.6 percent shooting, adding 5 rpg and leads the team with 47 assists on the season. Gates is third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.8 ppg and shoots 48.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. The Paladins as a team average 12.7 turnovers per game.
UC Davis received plenty of help from its bench in the team's win over Air Force. Corey Hawkins scored a game-high 20 points in the win. Air Force went ahead 38-34 at the half, but the Aggies built on their momentum from the end of the first period and went on a 15-4 run in the first 4:14 of the second stanza. Ryan Sypkens was the only other Aggie to reach double figures in the game with 17 points, but his 4-for-9 shooting performance from 3-point distance was huge for UC Davis. The Aggies outscored Air Force 44-32 in the paint in the game.
Having only played in nine games for UC Davis this season, Josh Ritchart leads the Aggies in scoring by a slim margin, checking in at 17.3 ppg. Hawkins isn't far behind with 17 ppg and a 5.5 rpg clip. Sypkens, who is a perfect 9-for-9 in free throws on the season, is third on the team in scoring at 9.8 ppg. He's also hit 34 3-pointers in 13 games.
Poor defensive performances have been the storyline for UC Davis this season, having been outscored by nearly 100 points this season. Furman is looking to close out its California trip on a positive note.
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