The UC Irvine men’s basketball team (3-4) began their five game road trip this past weekend by heading to Sioux Falls for the Sanford Pentagon Showcase where they would compete in three games in three days against South Dakota State, Milwaukee, and East Tennessee State.
South Dakota State
Friday night’s opening matchup of the Showcase for the ‘Eaters would be a rematch against South Dakota State (2-6) that saw UCI prevail once again by a score of 63-52.
Senior guard Jaron Martin led the ‘Eaters with 17 points and also tied his career high of eight rebounds. Freshman guard Eyassu Worku also had a career night in both the scoring and rebounding departments by registering 15 and seven respectively. Rounding out the bigs for the ‘Eaters, sophomore forward Jonathan Galloway had nine points and 10 rebounds while senior center Ioannis Dimakopoulos chipped in seven points and six rebounds.
The ‘Eaters were able to hold the Jackrabbits to just 26 percent shooting from the floor, while converting on 36 percent of their own, and outrebounded them 48-35. Irvine’s second unit made big contributions to Friday night’s win as the ‘Eaters’ bench outscored the Jackrabbits’ 23 to four.
Finding his rhythm in the second game against the ‘Eaters, sophomore forward Mike Daum notched game-highs with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
Irvine slipped to an early 11-3 deficit after the tip but bounced back with a 30-9 spurt to attain a 33-20 lead at the half.
South Dakota State were able to cut the deficit to single digits with nine and a half minutes left into the game but the ‘Eaters would benefit from a 9-2 run to put the Jackrabbits out of reach for good. Friday night’s win marks UCI’s 60th win in the last 62 games when holding their opponents to 60 points or less.
The ‘Eaters played their worst game of the season on Saturday when they faced Milwaukee (2-4) and fell by a score of 54-37.
UCI shot a poor 26 percent from the floor and went 1-14 on three point shot attempts while the Panthers hit seven shots from beyond the arc and garnered a 38 percent shooting percentage. Irvine committed 22 turnovers on the contest that resulted in 24 points in favor of the Panthers. The one category that the ‘Eaters did manage to salvage was the battle of the boards where they outrebounded the Panthers 40-34.
Galloway scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in the game against Milwaukee. Worku had eight points and five rebounds while freshman forward Tommy Rutherford notched a career high eight rebounds.
For the Panthers, sophomore guard Brock Stull and junior forward Brett Prahl paced their team offensively earning 11 and 10 points respectively.
Milwaukee was up for the entirety of the game, with their highest lead at 25, and led by a score of 29-18 at the half. The ‘Eaters managed to cut the deficit to single digits on two occasions but the Panthers lead was too insurmountable to overcome and they went on to lose their third game of the season.
East Tennessee State
Sunday morning, the ‘Eaters were unable to cap off the Sanford Pentagon Showcase on a positive note as they lost 72-66 to the Eastern Tennessee State Buccaneers (5-1).
Despite the loss, Dimakopoulos earned his career high of 21 points (shooting 50 percent from the floor and knocking down three from deep). Martin, who earned all-tournament honors, scored 19 points and dished out five assists. Rutherford didn’t miss a shot against the Buccaneers, registering nine points and six rebounds.
Senior guard T.J. Cromer led the Buccaneers, who went undefeated in the Showcase, with 15 points and five assists. Also chiming in was junior guard Desonta Bradford, who had 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
The ‘Eaters managed to outrebound the Buccaneers 34-31 but only converted on 42 percent of their shots in comparison to ETSU’s 47. UCI turned the ball over 18 times and the Buccaneers capitalized by making them into 18 points.
UCI shot 57 percent in the first half, with Dimakopoulos scoring more than half of his points, and used a 19-12 run to close out the first period with a 34-31 advantage over ETSU. The ‘Eaters would try to pull away early in the second half but the Buccaneers answered with an 11-2 spurt to give them a 46-45 edge with 12:54 left to play. Things would be knotted up at 55 all but ETSU finished the game on a 17-11 run to hand the ‘Eaters their second consecutive loss.
The ‘Eaters will remain on the road as they head to Santa Clara on Wednesday for a 7:00 p.m. tip off against the Broncos.