The UC Irvine men’s basketball team defeated Big West rival UC Riverside 67-53 on Saturday night at the Bren Events Center to remain unbeaten this season at home.
The Anteaters trailed the visiting Highlanders from Riverside for most of the first half. At one point UCI trailed by nine points. Senior guard Marcus McIntosh kept the Anteaters in the game with his eight early points off the bench. Senior forward Patrick Sanders took over in the final minutes of the first half culminating with a three-pointer as the clock ticked down to give the Anteaters the momentum and the lead at 30-28 heading into halftime.
As the second half began, it became evident that UCI was the better team. UCR had no answer inside for senior center Darren Fells. This led to the opening up of the perimeter for the rest of the Anteaters to go to work on the opposition.
A put-back dunk by Sanders ignited the crowd and put UCI up by seven points with a little over eight minutes left to play in the game. UCI continued to stretch the lead and finished the game with a 14-point advantage over UCR 67-53 to move its record to 8-11 overall.
Sanders had team-and-game highs of 21 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. He was a perfect 3-3 from behind the three-point line.
Fells had 16 points and five rebounds while sophomore guard Michael Hunter added 10 points and two steals. McIntosh netted eight points off the bench, all of which came in the first half of play.
Interestingly enough, the losing Highlanders shot better than the Anteaters from the field at 41.7 percent to 40.9 percent and also out-rebounded UCI by three, at 29 rebounds to 26.
UCI, however, only committed seven turnovers and made 23 of 26 free throws. The visiting Highlanders had yet to win an away game, losing all previous 10 games, while UCI was undefeated (6-0) on campus. Both of the streaks held true when the game was over; UCI was still undefeated on campus, now with a 7-0 record and UCR still had not won an away game, falling to 0-11 on the road.
‘The difference for us was that we went zone and that was the first time we played that zone all year.’ said Head Coach Pat Douglass.
He noted that the zone defense helped stop the penetration better than the man-to-man defense utilized earlier in the game.
Responding to the lack of depth with only 10 players suited up, Douglass mentioned that the team may get junior guard Trey Harris back next week. Harris was previously sidelined for academic issues.
Commenting on the difference between the play of the Anteaters at home as opposed to on the road, Douglass stated, ‘The crowd, the student participation