Starting their five game road trip at Moraga on Sunday, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team (5-6) were welcomed by the high scoring offense of No. 12 Saint Mary’s and were defeated 84-53 in the McKeon Pavilion.
The Gaels (7-1) shot a lights out 64 percent from the floor against the ‘Eaters in the second half (56 for the game) and put the ‘Eaters out of contention by holding the lead for the entire contest. The ‘Eaters were out done in nearly every category in the box score including being outrebounded 35-34 and getting outscored 32-24 in points in the paint.
Freshmen Eyassu Worku and Tommy Rutherford led the ‘Eaters offensively against the Gaels, posting 14 and 11 respectively. Worku knocked down two of his three point attempts while Rutherford went five of seven from the field for the game. Freshman center Brad Greene registered a team best five rebounds and senior guard Jaron Martin ended the night with five assists.
Five different Gaels scored in double figures in the contest with junior center Jock Landale leading the way with 15 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore center Evan Fitzner and freshman guard Jordan Ford both posted 12 points in the victory against the ‘Eaters.
Saint Mary’s started the game off with an 11-3 lead to force a UCI timeout five minutes into the opening half. The ‘Eaters would battle back with a couple of runs of their own, trimming the Gael lead to just three with 7:33 left in the period, but Saint Mary’s built a double digit margin and ended the half on a half-court shot by sophomore center Jordan Hunter to earn a 38-25 edge going into halftime. The Gaels would add to their lead and go up by 20 two minutes into the second half and eventually extended their advantage to 31 to secure their fifth win at home this season.
The ‘Eaters will continue to embark on the road as they face the Mountain West Conference leaders Nevada on Wednesday for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff at the Lawlor Events Center.