Usually, there is not much a team can salvage from an 11-point defeat.
However, the UC Irvine Men’s basketball team finally proved what they knew all along: They can play well in the second half.
Unfortunately, that was not enough on the road against a tough UCLA team as they lost 76-65 in front of 6,247 fans at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 27.
‘I thought we played with a little more quickness in the second half than we did in the first half,’ said UCI Head Coach Pat Douglass. ‘We started setting better screens, we got our secondary break going a little bit and we got some defensive stops.’
‘That was the emphasis during the week, to put two halves together and sustain the energy from the first half. I think we made ground this game,’ said junior guard Jeff Gloger. ‘It’s nice to see an improvement, but we’re disappointed that we didn’t win the game.’
Down 12 at the half, the Bruins’ sloppy play allowed the Anteaters to fight their way back into the game.
UCI (1-2) cut the deficit down to three on two occasions, the second time after a 10-4 run when Gloger sank a 10-foot jump shot in the key.
Ready to seize control of the game, the Anteaters’ pressure defense backfired on them as UCLA’s senior forward Dijon Thompson drilled a three-point shot from the baseline.
Bruin guard Brian Morrison would then make a three-point shot as the shot clock expired, and freshman guard Jordan Farmar would make an easy fast break layup to increase the three-point lead to 11 and seal the victory for UCLA (3-0).
‘We cut it to three, we had a miscue as far as a defensive assignment, and Thompson buries a three in the corner, then a turnover and it went it up back to ,’ Douglass explained.
‘We just didn’t get those stops when we needed them,’ said junior guard Ross Schraeder. ‘That was the difference right there.’
The Anteaters shot 41 percent from the field.
Junior guard Aaron Fitzgerald led all players with 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting.
Gloger scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
After not play up to par in the last few games, Douglass was pleased to see Gloger’s performance.
‘It was good to see him step up because he had been struggling the last few ball games,’ Douglass said.
UCLA’s Head Coach Ben Howland said that UCI’s starting trio of guards, including Schraeder, Gloger and Fitzgerald, gave the Bruins trouble throughout the game.
‘I give [Irvine’s] three perimeter players a lot of credit,’ Howland said. ‘They did a good job beating us off the bounce.’
Thompson, Farmar and freshman guard Aaron Afflalo all led the Bruins with 14 points apiece.
Their seven-foot junior center Michael Fey was their fourth player in double figures, scoring 13 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
‘Farmar controlled the game as far as the point guard position,’ Douglass admitted. ‘Farmar created the opportunities for their post players, where his dribble penetration really helped and gave Fey some looks.’
Although UCLA had several seven-foot players in their lineup, UCI out-rebounded UCLA 38 to 34.
‘I knew this would be a tough game for us. … Getting out-rebounded is very disappointing,’ Howland said.
Several Anteaters got into early foul trouble, which limited their playing time and aggressiveness on the court.
Senior center Greg Ethington committed two fouls in only two minutes of play.
Schraeder committed three fouls in the first half and sat out the remaining six minutes of the first half.
‘[Fouls] affected us a little bit,’ Schraeder said. ‘I came out and maybe wasn’t as aggressive at the start of the second half which kind of hurt. But it wasn’t a big factor.’
This loss to the Bruins was the second loss the Anteaters’ suffered last week.
On Nov. 22, UCI lost to USC on the road at the L.A. Sports Arena 90-70 after leading 37-36 at halftime.
After the second-half collapse in their game against USC, UCI focused more attention toward its second-half play.
‘We learned a lot from our USC game,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘We definitely came out stronger. We kept it up throughout the whole game, instead of just 20 minutes in the [USC] game.’
‘We just have to keep improving,’ Schraeder said. ‘There are a lot of games to be played this season, so we just have to [start] improving.’
The Anteaters’ next game will be against Sacramento State on Dec. 4 at the Bren Events Center.
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