UC Irvine 68
While most UC Irvine students were enjoying their last night of lounging around and eating leftover turkey on Saturday Nov. 25 before returning to campus, UCI’s men’s basketball team was working hard to give sports fans a game to be thankful for as they battled the Pepperdine Waves until the very last second.
The Anteaters narrowly pulled off a regulation win. Both teams were neck-and-neck for most of the second half, but Irvine held on for a 68-66 victory.
Both teams went cold from the field in the final four minutes of the game, and it was Pepperdine’s fouling that saved the game for Irvine.
After a jump shot put the Waves in the lead 66-65 with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left in the second half, neither team would score another field goal for the rest of the game.
With the Anteaters trailing by a single point, junior forward Darren Fells was fouled with 56 seconds left in the game after grabbing a rebound. Fells missed both free throws and the Anteaters still trailed 66-65.
After stopping Pepperdine on its next offensive possession, the Anteaters had a final chance to win the game. With 21 seconds left to play, sophomore forward Adam Templeton was fouled and nailed both his free throws to put the Anteaters up 67-66.
Two time-outs were called in the next two seconds before Pepperdine would foul for the last time. With 2.3 seconds of game time remaining, junior guard Marcus McIntosh made one of his two free throws to put the Anteaters at 68-66.
Pepperdine quickly took its last shot, but it didn’t end up anywhere near the basket and Irvine managed to walk away victorious.
Despite the botched free throws late in the game, Fells led the team in scoring with 15 points, hitting five field goals while grabbing a career high of 15 rebounds.
‘It’s a big win,’ Fells said. ‘We had been on a losing streak for a while.’
Irvine earned the win despite having lost a player the day before. Freshman guard Chris Osborn was kicked off the team ‘for conduct detrimental to the team,’ according to head coach Pat Douglas.
Irvine held the lead for the entire first half, but the Waves kept slowly closing in on the Anteaters and saw their first lead at 43-41 with about 13 minutes left in the game. The lead would alternate between teams every few minutes. The biggest gap in scoring occurred with just over seven minutes remaining, when UCI pulled ahead 60-54, but two minutes later, the Waves were back ahead 62-61.
‘It’s a positive win,’ Douglass said. ‘We were on the road for a lot of games. These guys have been warriors here.’
The team had only played at home for two of their previous games, and tonight’s home victory brought their record up to 3-4.
In the opening minutes of the game, it looked as if UCI was going to be in control. A minute and a half into the game, freshman forward Chad DeCasas broke the scoring seal by sinking a three-pointer. Irvine continued to pull ahead until its lead peaked at 17-6 after Fells scored on a put back.
After that, however, Irvine would struggle to score as Pepperdine went on an 11-0 run. Waves junior guard Kingsley Costain sunk back-to-back three-point baskets to tie things up at 17.
Luckily for UCI, Pepperdine then went on a fouling frenzy, and the Anteaters were able to get ahead by another 10 points without sinking a single field goal as they took advantage of every free throw opportunity they were given.
Once UCI was up 27-17, the Waves started doing a better job of keeping their hands to themselves, and at the end of the first half, they trailed the Anteaters 34-29.
Junior forward Patrick Sanders scored 14 points on the night while Templeton added 12 more for the Anteaters, none more important then his final two free throws.