The UCI Men’s Basketball team (15-8, 9-4) defeated Long Beach State (5-10, 4-7) with a score of 71-68 at the Walter Pyramid on March 5. This victory comes after a battle in overtime, giving UCI their ninth Big West Conference win of the season.
Within the initial four minutes of the first half, LBSU dominated the court with a 7-2 lead. Eager to switch the momentum, the Anteaters took control and went on a 6-0 scoring run. This led them to take the lead, 8-2, with nearly 14 minutes left in the half.
LBSU took back their lead with back-to-back layups and perseverance from senior guard Isaiah Washington, who finished the night with 17 points and was their leading scorer. However, UCI did not sit back and let LBSU take over the game. They went on another 6-0 scoring run to earn back the lead, 18-14, with nearly nine minutes left in the half.
LBSU responded with a nine-point run, but UCI’s freshman guard DJ Davis was quick to shut it down. Davis scored two free throws to break LBSU’s run and put UCI up, 26-25, at halftime.
The second half started off strong for LBSU, who went on a seven-point lead. Yet, the Anteaters quickly responded with redshirt sophomore forward JC Butler scoring seven points in a 10-0 scoring run.
At 10:28, the score was in favor of UCI with a score of 41-37; however, both teams soon made layups and three-pointers from the paint. The game was tied at 50-50.
With four minutes left in the second half, redshirt senior center Brad Greene consecutively scored six points to give the Anteaters a lead, 56-50. Greene finished off the night as the Anteaters’ third top scorer with 11 points overall.
With less than 30 seconds left in the second half, UCI redshirt junior forward Collin Welp hit a jumper. However, LBSU junior guard Chance Hunter hit a buzzer beater three-pointer to send the game to overtime. The score was tied, 60-60.
Overtime commenced with six points made by UCI’s Davis which included a jumper, layup and two free throws. This gave UCI the lead, 68-64.
LBSU made a jumper to lessen the scoring gap by one point with only 28 seconds left in the game. Welp scored the last points of the night with two free throws. This secured the victory for the Anteaters, 71-68.
Welp and Davis were Irvine’s top scorers, both with 18 points. Davis finished the night with five assists, a team-best record, while Welp was 6-6 perfect behind the free-throw line.
“I thought this game would be like how it was and we showed resilience in coming through and winning it,” UCI head coach Russell Turner said in the postgame interview. “We struggled at times and a lot of that credit goes to Long Beach but we made enough plays to get a victory and I am excited about that. We have a big challenge in front of us to try to do it again tomorrow.”
The Anteaters played their final regular-season match against LBSU and won with a comfortable margin, 73-58.
Gina Johnson is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.