Last weekend, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team maintained its undefeated record at home, and now looks forward to transitioning that success on the road. It took the team two games, but UCI managed to salvage its second victory outside of the Bren Events Center this season.
UCI was defeated by Cal State Northridge 69-64 at Thursday night’s Big West Conference game, but ended its road trip on a positive note, crushing Cal State Long Beach 70-48.
Senior Darren Fells led the Anteaters in scoring in both contests. He scored 16 points in a losing effort versus Northridge, while fellow senior Michael Sanders drained 11 of his own.
With the victory, the Matadors remained undefeated on their home court (7-0), had it not been for a 5:53 second scoring drought from the Anteaters, their streak may have ended on Thursday.
Fells scored off an offensive rebound with 9:22 seconds to play, and Irvine didn’t score another field goal until Fells made one with 3:29 left.
Consequently, the Anteaters lost by five points, and endured yet another loss on the road.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, UCI seemed to take its road frustrations out all at once on Saturday night.
UCI showed no signs of a team that has trouble winning on the road, easily beating Long Beach by 22 points in a Big West Conference game.
Fells enjoyed his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 17 points along with 11 rebounds, leading UCI to its first road conference victory of the season.
Sophomore guard Michael Hunter contributed 16 points for the Anteaters, sinking four of six three pointers. Sanders scored 15 points and seven boards, while junior Brett Lauer scored eight points off the bench. Marcus McIntosh recorded a career-high five assists and two steals.
UCI didn’t let Long Beach fans get excited. The Anteaters led 38-21 at halftime and only increased the disparity in the second half. UCI shot 53 percent from the field and hit eight of 16 threes. The 49ers were just three of 18 from three-point range and shot 35 percent from the floor.
The road victory evened UCI’s record to 4-4 in the Big West.
‘I thought overall, we played with a lot of energy,’ said Head Coach Pat Douglass. ‘When we have played with energy, we normally shoot the ball well. It helps our team’s confidence to win one on the road and now we have to try and do it again next week.’
The Anteaters desperately need the same energy for their upcoming road games against Cal Poly Thursday night and UC Santa Barbara next Saturday evening. The UCSB game will be televised live on Prime Ticket.
The Anteaters’ most impressive win this season was against the Big West No. 1 team, UCSB. This time UCI will have to duplicate their success on the road.
Another triumph over the Gauchos will put the Anteaters’ conference record above .500 with four Big West games remaining, all of which will be hosted at UCI where the Anteaters are an undefeated 8-0.