Following a win against UC Santa Barbara to snap their three-game lose streak, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team ventured to Hawai’i Saturday night for a Big West conference matchup against the Rainbow Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Senior guard Luke Nelson earned a season-high 29 points off a six from 10 performance from deep to lead the ‘Eaters to a 72-58 victory in front of a raucous crowd of 7,452. Nelson moved to third all-time with his 227 threes, surpassing current assistant coach Michael Wilder (2009-2013), who made 224 in his tenure with the team. Nelson also places ninth of all time in points with 1,361, passing Will Davis II (2011-2015) with 1,384.
Sophomore forward Jonathan Galloway grabbed 11 rebounds in the contest, fueling Irvine’s 39 total rebounds against the Rainbow Warriors’ 22. The ‘Eater bench outscored their opponents’ 22-0, with freshman guard Max Hazzard putting up nine points on a perfect shooting night. UCI shot 47.2 percent, while Hawai’i converted on 42.6 percent of their shots.
For the Rainbow Warriors (12-12, 6-5), junior forward Gibson Johnson scored 19 points while senior guard Noah Allen and Sheriff Drammeh scored 18 and 12 respectively.
Hawai’i would throw the first punch of the game as they opened up the game on a 14-4 run. Irvine retaliated and put the clamps down on defense, smothering the Rainbow Warriors to shoot 31 percent in the half, and closed on a 31-6 run to take a 35-20 lead at halftime. Irvine never let up, leading by double digits throughout the second half, and led by as many as 19 points to take their second consecutive victory.
The win puts the ‘Eaters at 15-12 overall with an 8-3 conference record. With UC Davis (16-9, 8-2) winning their match against UC Riverside last night, the ‘Eaters remain at second place, a half game behind the Aggies.
The ‘Eaters will have another week off as they are set to host UC Riverside on Saturday for a 9 p.m. tipoff. The game will be televised on ESPNU.