If you haven’t experienced UC Irvine basketball by now, then you should head to the Bren Events Center and get ready for an amazing party hosted by freshman forward Eric Wise and the rest of the Anteaters. Cal State Bakersfield learned that party crashers will not be tolerated at the Bren during last Wednesday’s non-conference matchup. The Anteaters sent the Roadrunners home after an 85-72 win by UCI.
Freshman stud Wise led all scorers with 20 points as UCI came on strong in the second half. He was not the only bright light for the Anteaters though, as three others scored in double figures.
Senior forward Kevin Bland had a huge game by scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Michael Hunter added 17 points, while fellow guard Patrick Rembert added 11 points and five assists off the bench.
However, it wasn’t an easy win for UCI, as they trailed CSB for the whole first half of the ball game. The Roadrunners shot 50 percent from the three-point field and held UCI to 35 points in the first half. The Anteaters found itself down by 11 at one point in the half.
“We gave up a lot of easy shots in the first half and tried to make them (CSB) take harder shots in the second half,” Bland said after the game.
This is exactly what UCI did, with three minutes to go in the first half. The ‘Eaters held Bakersfield without a field goal and went on a 9-2 run and ended with Rembert’s clutch three-point shot with four seconds left on the clock.
The Anteaters continued their defensive and offensive pressure in the second half by out-scoring the Roadrunners by 16 points.
Irvine’s 50 point outburst secured their fifth win in the last eight games. UCI hit four out of six three pointers and shot 60 percent from field goal range in the second half. Bakersfield only went one from nine from three point land and shot only 41 percent from the field.
Guards Hunter and Rembert helped secure UCI’s first lead of the game when Rembert found Hunter for the open three at the top of the key after three minutes in the second half.
Irvine never looked back as Bland and Wise punished the Roadrunners inside the paint for a combined 18 points in the second half.
After the game, Head Coach Pat Douglass described the run at the end of the first half motivated the team.
“The close of the first half was really good because we came out and made it a second half ball game,” Coach Douglass said.
Coach Douglass also pointed out Bakersfield’s aggressiveness and strong play.
“They executed well and took good shots and I told my team if we don’t play well we won’t beat them,” he said.
It isn’t shocking to hear Coach Douglass talk about an opponent with such respect considering that he coached CSB for 10 years before he came to Irvine and won three NCAA II Tournament Championships.
Coach Douglass was also quick to describe the development of Eric Wise’s game.
“He has a gift to see and feel the game and knows how to use his body,” Coach Douglass said.
Wise also pointed out that it was a group effort that sparked the second half turn around.
“The whole team got involved in the second half and everyone played a lot better,” Wise said.
CSUN 74 UCI 55
The UC Irvine basketball team pulled to within one at 50-49 only to see Cal State Northridge break out on a 24-6 run over the final 6:39 to defeat UCI 74-55 at Northridge on Saturday night.
With the loss, UCI’s record falls to 6-13, and 3-3 in the Big West Conference. Senior guard Brett Lauer led the Anteaters with 17 points and three of five three-point attempts. Junior guard Michael Hunter contributed 13 points of his own. The Anteaters shot a dismal 29.8 percent for the game.
Both teams shot below 35 percent in the first half and the Matadors came away with a 29-26 halftime lead. The lone bright spot for the Anteaters was Lauer’s shooting as he scored 11 points in the half.
UCI found itself down 42-31 in the second until Hunter and Lauer brought UCI back to within one. CSUN turned its shooting game around and shot 50 percent from the field in the second half. UCI shot 28 percent in the second.
The Matadors scored 19 points off of 19 Anteater turnovers, and out-rebounded UCI 42-31 for the game.
“Our guys battled hard and I don’t think the final score is indicative of how most of the game went as it got away from us in the end,” said Coach Douglass. “We didn’t do a good job of handling Northridge’s pressure which led to too many turnovers.”
UCI next plays UC Riverside on Thursday on the road, then heads back on Saturday to play rival and Big West leader Long Beach State at 7:05 p.m. at the Bren Events Center.
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