After a resilient first half, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team (17-5, 6-0) were able to keep their composure on the road and defeat Cal State Northridge, 73-63, Wednesday night at the Matadome.
It was the seven foot duo of juniors Mamadou Ndiaye and Ioannis Dimakopoulos that paved the way for the ‘Eater victory with 14 and 13 points respectively. While Ndiaye scored his buckets off a perfect 7-7 shooting, Dimakopoulos notched five rebounds and a career high six blocked shots. Their effort inside is what fueled the ‘Eaters’ 52 percent shooting on the night in their win over the Matadors (7-14, 2-5).
Junior guard Luke Nelson and senior forward Mike best also contributed to the ‘Eater scoring attack with 14 and 10 respectively.
The closing minute of the first half turned to be vital as sudden shifts in momentum allowed the ‘Eaters to take a double digit lead into the second half and never look back. Matador senior forward Tre Hale-Edmerson was able to rise over Ndiaye for a contact dunk but received a technical foul in the process for taunting after the play. The season high crowd of 2,157 in attendance were on their feet for the highlight play but in addition to Hale-Edmerson’s penalty, the CSUN coaching staff also received a technical foul for arguing their case, as that sent Nelson to the line for four free throws. The ‘Eaters ended the first half on a quick 8-0 run as a result, capped off by a beyond half-court shot from senior guard Alex Young to give the ‘Eaters a 33-22 lead.
A second half 19-3 run by the ‘Eaters gave them a comfortable lead over the Matadors as the deficit was too much to overcome. With the win, the ‘Eaters have now won their tenth of their last eleven games and sit atop the Big West standings, with Hawai’i having their rest day.
The ‘Eaters will return to the Bren for Homecoming this Saturday as they will face UC Santa Barbara at 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU).