It was a sight to be seen.
By the time the final buzzer had capped the night in UC Irvine’s exhibition opener, a small glimmering glow had just blossomed inside the Bren Events Center.
On this night, a new star was born as sophomore guard Mike Efevberha poured in a game-high 28 points to lead the UC Irvine Men’s Basketball team to a 94-91 victory over the EA Sports Southwest All-Stars before a crowd of 1,072.
After making only two baskets in the first half, Efevberha exploded for 23 points after halftime.
‘We went to him, yeah,’ said Head Coach Pat Douglass. ‘I like the way Mike Efevberha attacked the basket. He does show that he can put some numbers on the board.’
Efevberha scored the Anteaters’ last nine points of the ballgame, including two free throws with 15 seconds left to clinch the win for Irvine.
Despite the end result, Douglass admitted after the game that the EA Sports All-Stars gave his team their money’s worth.
‘You want to play against a team that is going to stretch you and that [game] did stretch us,’ Douglass said. ‘As far as the talent level, that was a very talented group that shot the ball well so it was a test for us.’
Douglass was referring to how the EA Sports All-Stars shot 53 percent from three-point land in the game, including an astounding 69 percent mark in the first half.
By halftime, the EA Sports All-Stars owned a 47-38 lead.
But the Anteaters came out energized in the second half, as sophomore guard Jeff Gloger found senior forward Matt Okoro streaking towards the basket with a pass and Okoro, fittingly, dunked the ball to cut the All-Stars’ lead to 55-46.
At the 11:32 mark, with UCI down 63-59, Efevberha took matters into his own hands.
The sleek Efevberha penetrated from the top of the key, to the hoop, and dunked the ball with authority to rock the Bren Center, making it 63-61.
‘He’s gotten a lot stronger and a he’s got a lot more confidence,’ said senior center Adam Parada. ‘It shows after he’s able to take the ball around someone and muscle it inside. He’s just a more diverse player now, more of a threat.’
Efevberha shot 8-of-15 on the night and hit 10-of-11 free throws to up his team’s night at the charity stripe to 26-of-31.
Fellow backcourt mate, sophomore Ross Schraeder scored 13 points and Parada added 14 points in the win, shooting 6-of-11 from the field.
In Saturday night’s win, the trio of Efevberha, Schraeder and junior center Greg Ethington proved to be the spark plugs.
‘These were three key players who didn’t start and were still keys to the game,’ Douglass said.
Ethington nearly registered a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds, as five of them came off the offensive glass.
Forward Tony Harvey led five All-Stars in double-digit scoring with 23 points in the loss.
UCI was the first stop in a 13-city national tour for the EA Sports All-Stars, who are comprised of former college and professional basketball players.
The Anteaters shot 45 percent in the contest compared to the All-Stars’ 51 percent. Still, Irvine owned the rebound edge (38-35) and turnover rate (10-18).
Freshman forward Nic Campbell did not dress because of a sprained ankle. He is expected back for UCI’s next home game.
In the last exhibition game of the season, UCI matches up with Cal State Los Angeles at the Bren Center, Nov. 6.
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