A career night by senior guard Jaron Martin, who posted 33 points off a seven from 11 shooting performance from beyond the arc, was not enough to put the UC Irvine men’s basketball team (5-8) over New Mexico State Monday night as they fell 85-79 in a game that required an overtime period.
Senior center Ioannis Dimakopoulos registered a career-best 11 rebounds in the contest and scored 10 points to cap off his double-double. Freshman forward Tommy Rutherford notched 12 points and six rebounds while fellow freshman Eyassu Worku scored 11 points and garnered a career-high six assists.
For the Aggies (11-2), junior guard Braxton Huggins led his team in scoring with 24 points while junior forward Jemerrio Jones posted a double-double of 23 points and 18 rebounds. New Mexico State had the advantage on the boards, 52-42, and turned 17 ‘Eater turnovers into 18 points in their favor. Also in the rebounding department, the Aggies earned 27 offensive rebounds and converted 26 second chance points.
Martin scored 17 of his total points in the first half to help bolster UCI’s hot 64 percent shooting from three (New Mexico State shot a poor 1 for 11 from deep) and earn a slim 39-38 advantage at halftime. In front of a raucous crowd of 3,794 fans in attendance inside the Pan American Center, both the ‘Eaters and the Aggies could not pull away from each other in the second half and after not scoring in the last 1:51 in the game, the matchup would be decided in overtime.
UCI would manage to score the opening bucket in overtime but surrendered a 10-0 Aggie run to give New Mexico State a 82-74 lead with under a minute left in the period. A score by Martin would cut the lead to just four with 12 seconds remaining but Huggins iced the game with two free throws that cost the ‘Eaters their third straight game on the road.
Head coach Russell Turner’s bunch continues to be without the on-court leadership of preseason all-conference guard Luke Nelson (hamstring) and with conference play looming, the ‘Eaters will look to get him to 100 percent.
The ‘Eaters continue on to defend their title at the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Bowl Invitational tomorrow night as they open up competition against Akron for a 4:00 p.m. tipoff. In the other leg of the invitational is UTEP and Maryland Eastern Shore (7:00 p.m.) awaiting the victor of UCI/Akron.