PORTLAND, Ore. – An 11-1 UC Davis run over the final 1:50 of the first half changed SIUE men's basketball's fate Friday as the Aggies earned a come-from-behind 80-75 win over the Cougars in the opening game of the Portland State Tournament.
Rozell Nunn drained a jumper with 2:05 to play before halftime to put SIUE up 37-25 when The Aggies' Josh Ritchart took over. Ritchart scored all 11 of UC Davis' points during the run. The only Cougar point the rest of the half came on a Kris Davis free throw. Ritchart forced a steal at the end of the half, then heaved a three-quarter-court shot that rimmed in to make the score 38-36 SIUE at the half.
The Cougars fell to 1-3 with the loss. UC Davis improved to 2-2.
"We had some break downs down the stretch of the first half," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We let them go on a run. It was our turnovers and lack of intensity and focus on defense in the first half."
Ritchart led all scorers with a career-high 35 points. He tied his career-high with 13 rebounds.
UC Davis took its first lead with a three-pointer by Avery Johnson 1:10 into the second half. Christian Salecich answered for SIUE with a three-pointer of his own to make it 41-39 SIUE. Nunn extended SIUE's lead to four (43-39) with a layup with 17:43 to play. Ritchart, Corey Hawkins, and Johnson hit consecutive jumpers to put UC Davis back on top with 16:15 to play.
Michael Messer gave SIUE its last lead of the game with a three-pointer with 15:47 left which made the score 46-45 SIUE.
The Aggies built their lead to as many as 11 in the second half when a Ritchart three-pointer made it 64-53 with 9:02 left. It was a 10-point (73-63) advantage when the Cougars went on a 12-3 run. Another Messer three-pointer had the Cougars within one point at 76-75 with 2:19 remaining, but the Cougars couldn't get any closer.
"In the second half, down the stretch again, we just couldn't come up with a big stop like we wanted to," Forrester added.
Messer finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting. He was 2 for 5 from three-point range. Nunn led the Cougars with a career-high 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting. He was 3 for 4 from three-point range. He added a team-high eight rebounds.
"Rozell got us off to a great start on the offensive end, but also the defensive end," Forrester said. "He gave us some rebounds. He came up with some tough rebounds early in the game and again down the stretch."
Davis added 11 points for the Cougars, who shot 49.1 percent (28-57) for the game, but just 41.9 percent (13-31) in the second half.
UC Davis shot 57.1 percent (16-28) in the second half and 56.6 percent (30-53) for the game.
"They are a team that spreads you out. They do a great job using ball screens," Forrester said. "We just had trouble with their screens because they have so many guys who can shoot the basketball."
Hawkins was the only Aggie aside from Ritchart in double figures. He scored 11.
The Cougars will meet host Portland State Saturday night. Forrester said he doesn't believe the quick turnaround will bother the team.
"With four games under our belts it shouldn't take very long for our guys to pick up on what Portland State is doing and to be able to guard what they're doing," he said. "Our defense has got to get better. Guarding the basketball has to be a tremendous emphasis."
Tipoff Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m., central time, at the Stott Center.