Winning Half the Time, All the Time
UCI 64 Cal Poly 57
The UC Irvine men’s basketball team defeated Big West Conference foe Cal Poly 64-57 on Thursday night at the Bren Events Center. The win improved UCI’s overall record to 8-14 with a Big West Conference record of 5-4. The Anteaters entered the game short-handed as starting point guard junior Michael Hunter sat out of the game with a sprained ankle. Sophomore guard Patrick Rembert went the distance as he played all 40 minutes in place of Hunter.
The first half of play was painful to watch, but the game got interesting toward the end of the first period. The Anteaters trailed 0-6 from the start and put up just 4 points in the first 10 minutes of action.
The most interesting part of the first half was when the UCI student section harassed Cal Poly senior guard Chaz Thomas by accusing him of having a plethora of illnesses most which were sexually transmitted diseases. The student section chanted “Chaz has herpes” multiple times.
As the action resumed on the court, the Anteaters put the pressure on the visiting Cal Poly Mustangs by going on a 7-0 run to put themselves up with a score of 16-12. The Mustangs responded and led the Anteaters by 4 points at halftime with the score of 20-24. Both teams shot poorly from the field as the visiting team shot 9-29 (31 percent), and the Anteaters shot 8-24 (33 percent).
As the second half began, the Anteaters had a renewed sense of enthusiasm. From the start of the second half, UCI had a much-needed home victory on its mind. Lay-up by senior forward Kevin Bland. followed by a 3-pointer by freshman guard Derrick Strings, put the Anteaters up three with the score of 29-26. The Anteaters opened up the lead to as much as 10 points.
With the absence of Michael Hunter, and the unusually low offensive outing for freshman forward Eric Wise, the Anteaters received a needed boost from Bland, junior guard/forward Chad DeCasas and Rembert. Bland had game highs of 20 points and eight rebounds, while Rembert had an impressive box score with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Chad DeCasas seemed to find his shooting stroke while knocking down two of two 3-point field goals. DeCasas totaled 14 points in just 17 minutes of play with all of his 14 points coming in the second half of play. The Anteaters shot an impressive 53.6 percent from the field in the second half en route to their 7 point victory over Cal Poly.
“Chad DeCasas had a special game as did Kevin Bland,” said Head Coach Pat Douglass after the game. “The second half we made some shots. It always looks better when you make some shots. Kevin Bland picked it up, he had some great drives, and with Hunter out, Rembert being able to go 40 minutes was a big key. And in the second half, we only had one turnover, so we took better care of the ball in the second half.”
Bland looks forward to the team’s next match-up.
“It was a great win. Now we have the tie breaker over Cal Poly if it comes into play. We have to get as many wins as we can,” Bland said.
Rembert was excited to be back in the starting lineup.
“It felt great. I haven’t got a start since the USC game. It felt good to get back in there and contribute to the team and help us get a win,” Rembert said.
UCSB 65 UCI 56
UC Irvine men’s basketball suffered a hard loss on Saturday night against UC Santa Barbara, which will hurt the Anteaters’ standing in the Big West Conference. The Gauchos outscored Irvine by 10 points in the second half and ended up winning 65-56. The game was a tough physical match-up that featured many momentum changes, and UCI was not able to match Santa Barbara’s final run.
A packed Bren Events Center, with 2,310 fans of all ages, witnessed UCSB snap a four-game losing streak to the chagrin of the Anteaters. UCI could not find a way to contain UCSB’s Chris Devine and Will Brew, who scored a combined 33 points. Forward Eric Wise scored 23 points and guard Brett Lauer added 17, going four for seven from beyond the arc.
Irvine started out the night strong with Lauer hitting two 3-pointers to open the contest and stake UCI to a 6-0 lead. The first half was very close as both teams played hard-nosed defense, until Irvine went on a run and ended up with a 10-point lead at the 3:15 mark. The Gauchos responded by holding Irvine to zero field goals for the rest of the half and chipping the lead down to 1 point at halftime. Wise led the Anteaters with 13 points in the first frame.
Irvine started out on fire in the second half and looked to take control of the game when the pesky Gauchos came back and took a 1-point lead with 9:59 left in the second half. Brett Lauer responded to this by hitting a 3-pointer from the corner while getting fouled and made the free throw to put Irvine on top 45-43. UCSB’s Brew came down the court on the next position and hit a three to put the Gauchos up for good with 9:11 left in the game. Santa Barbara scored 19 points to Irvine’s 11 to close out the game.
Second chance points really hurt Irvine as they allowed UCSB to score 12 points off of numerous offensive rebounds. Santa Barbara out-rebounded Irvine 34 to 26. The Anteaters were also hurt by forward Kevin Bland being in foul trouble for most of the game. Three-point field goals also hurt Irvine as they went four for 14 compared to Santa Barbara shooting seven for 13 from 3-point land. UCI did not get much help from the stripe by only going to the free-throw line eight times to UCSB’s 18.
“UCSB played hard. Their board play, their ability to shoot the three, and the early foul trouble with Bland were the real keys of the game,” said Head Coach Pat Douglass.
He also admired UCSB’s Chris Devine and his offensive performance.
“Devine really played a good ball game and made big buckets when they needed them,” Coach Douglass said.
Bland attributed the loss to the defensive play of the Gauchos.”We got pressured offensively,” he said, “so that led to some lapses defensively.”
Junior center Zack Atkinson mentioned, “Their intensity really picked up in the second half. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them.”
UCI looks to right get back to winning ways against the Aggies at UC Davis on Feb. 12.