Homecoming Crowd Excited to See the Anteaters Win in Style
Some might say that UCI is not exactly known for its basketball program and that opponents don’t really shake in fear at the sound of the Anteaters; but you know what, they should.
With the homecoming win over Cal State Northridge, the UCI men’s basketball record for the season is now at an even .500. To put that in perspective, so far this season, the UCI Anteaters have won a higher percentage of games than the Los Angeles Lakers.
Prior to the game, alumni from all over the nation gathered in the street fair to interact with students and see what has changed since they graduated from UC Irvine. The right side of Mesa was closed off and there were booths placed all over the street welcoming the alumni.
By 4 p.m., alumni and students alike were excited to see their Anteaters take on the Cal State Northridge Matadors in a battle of Big West rivals.
“Games like this are meant to change the culture of the basketball program at UCI. It’s not that we don’t have a good basketball team, it’s that no one really knows about it,” third-year biological sciences major Mark Saad said.
Homecoming was definitely a different atmosphere. The combination of alumni and students electrified the Bren Events Center, and paved the way for men’s basketball to show ’Eater Nation just what they are capable of.
As the fans would like to think, some of the team’s success so far this season can be attributed to the support they have received from its fans. This was extremely evident during Saturday’s victory. The crowd was engaged from the start, cheering on the players during introductions and chanting with the band throughout.
“The more enthusiasm there is around the team, the more encouraged they are, and the better they play,” second-year criminology major Maribel Mendoza said.
Mendoza is a pretty credible fan: she’s gone to so many basketball games in her two years at UCI that she can’t even recall how many games she has attended. She was one of the 3,900 people at the Bren Events Center on Saturday night, cheering on the Anteaters before they embark on a three-game road trip.
The first half was all about defense, with Will Davis II leading the way with a season-high five blocked shots. Davis was extremely active on the defensive end, and the crowd’s exuberant cheering made it clear that they were well aware of his defensive efforts.
Once the second half started, it was all Anteaters. Daman Starring took over and shut the door on a Matador comeback.
Once the Anteaters got going on the offensive end, there was no stopping them.
“I am really glad these guys came out today and played the way they did, maybe it will revitalize student interest in the team,” ASUCI representative and avid UCI basketball supporter Julie Boutros said.
It was clear that the crowd ignited the Anteaters to their best shooting game of the season, as the players were involved with the fans from the onset.
During player introductions, the fans roared with applause and refused to sit down for the last two minutes of the first half.
First-year biological sciences major Michael Boutros decided to come to the homecoming game as his first UCI Athletics event. “I was never really into basketball, but seeing these guys, my colleagues, play is really something else!” he exclaimed.
As the game ended with the Anteaters leading by a score of 10 points in a 79-69 scoreline, the crowd once again stood cheering loudly, giving the fearsome UC Irvine squad the standing ovation they deserve.