UC Davis 85 UCI 76
Junior Michael Hunter scored a career-high 22 points against UC Davis on Thursday, but it was another career high from an Aggie that helped his team prevail. Joe Harden scored a career-high 24 points to lead UCD past UC Irvine 85-76 at the Pavilion in Davis.
While Hunter lead UCI in the points category, freshman Eric Wise put together one of his best overall performances yet. He recorded 18 points to go along with eight rebounds and a career-high six assists. Senior Kevin Bland and sophomore Patrick Rembert added 10 points each as the Anteaters converted 19 of 23 free throw attempts (82.6 percent).
UCI built a quick lead in the contest only to see Davis go on a 10-0 run putting them up 12-8 five minutes into the game. Senior Kyle Brucculeri came off the bench for the Aggies in the first half and drained three 3-point attempts. He finished the half and the game with 11 points to help give the Aggies a 38-32 halftime lead.
UCI again opened the second half well and won a 45-43 lead on a letup by Bland with just under 15 minutes remaining. The Aggies responded with a 13-0 run to go up 56-45 with 10:48 remaining. The ‘Eaters stayed strong and responded with a 13-2 run of their own to bring the game to within two at 60-58 on a pair of free throws by Hunter, who was 11 of 12 from the charity stripe.
UCI would bring it to within one at 65-64 with 3:37 remaining, but a 3-pointer by Dominic Calegari on the ensuing play would put the Aggies up by 4 points.
Despite Poor free-throw shooting, the Aggies converted 13 of 14 free throw attempts over the final 1:38 to close out the victory.
“Our players battled all night but Davis shot the three well at key times and they were clutch at the free throw line,” said Head Coach Pat Douglass.
Pacific 65 UCI 55
Senior Kevin Bland’s homecoming was spoiled, as his league leading sixth double-double was not enough for the Anteaters to defeat the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
The Tigers’ shooting was just too much for the Anteaters as they shot 65 percent in the second half and 52 percent overall for the game.
Bland was six of 12 from the field and finished with 16 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Michael Hunter added 11 points and four steals.
UC Irvine built a 14-8 lead five minutes into the contest, but then went 11:30 without a field goal. Fortunately for UCI, the Anteater defense held Pacific to just 26 first half points. The ‘Eaters ended the half with 22 points on a 3-pointer by senior Brett Lauer.
Hunter opened the second half with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one at 26-25. The Tigers would then pull away with a 10-point lead at 56-46 on a tip-in by Sam Willard with 4:53 left in regulation. UCI would close in to within 4 points just over a minute later at 56-52. Pacific would go on to win the game at 65-55.
With the win, Pacific Head Coach Bob Thompson became the coach with the most wins in Big West conference games with his 206th conference win.
UCI committed only nine turnovers to Pacific’s 14, but the Anteaters shot a dismal 35 percent from the field. UCI fell to 8-17 overall and 5-7 in Big West conference games.
“I thought we turned in a good effort the whole game. Kevin Bland played above the rim and played hard all night,” said Head Coach Pat Douglass.
The Anteaters return home on Wednesday in front of a national TV audience on ESPNU against conference leader Big West Cal State Northridge at the Bren Events Center.