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UCI Wins in Blowout Against Pepperdine, 82-48

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The UCI Men’s basketball team remained undefeated (3-1) after taking down the Pepperdine Waves (2-3) at the Bren on Saturday, Nov. 20.

Sophomore guard Dawson Baker suited up for the Anteaters after missing the last game due to rib pain and led the team in scoring with 19 points. He scorched the nets with threes as he knocked down four out of five shots from beyond the arc.

UCI’s defense harassed Pepperdine all game long and as a result, the Anteaters finished with 11 steals — four of them from redshirt sophomore bench guard Ofure Ujadughele. Ujadughele, redshirt sophomore guard Justin Hohn and sophomore guard DJ Davis provided a much needed spark off the bench by hounding Pepperdine ball-handlers the full length of the court. 

At the 12 minute mark in the first half, UCI only led by two — 14-12 — but the three Anteater guards caused the Waves to crash as the Anteaters went on a run to lead 24-12. 

Pepperdine’s defense was aggressive at the start, hedging hard on pick and rolls. However, this led to their demise. UCI took advantage of the Waves’ defensive scheme by slipping ball screens and utilizing the high post to get passes to cutters. UCI’s redshirt senior forward Collin Welp was a recipient of these passes and filled up the stat sheet with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and a couple of steals.

“They were trying to play aggressively and they were a smaller team,” Welp said. “I knew that I would have the advantage inside, so I just tried to exploit that.”

Pepperdine’s lack of adjustments led to UCI having the lead at halftime, 36-24. UCI led for nearly the entirety of the first half and held the Waves to 39% shooting.

The Anteaters continued their rampage on Pepperdine in the second half, opening with a steal on the opening possession that led to a transition layup for junior forward Austin Johnson, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks. UCI led by as much as 36 points and never felt Pepperdine’s presence.

UCI’s bigs were key in maintaining the lead. Freshman center Bent Leuchten and junior forward Dean Keeler provided paint scoring with crafty post moves and crashed the offensive boards to create multiple opportunities for the Anteater offense.

The Waves got 13 points from graduate forward Keith Fisher III and redshirt senior guard Jade Smith, but that was not enough as the Anteaters won 82-48.

“It’s a big win for a bunch of reasons,” UCI head coach Russell Turner said. “It’s the first time, personally, my teams here have beat Pepperdine … They’re a good opponent. They’re a team with a lot of talent so this one will hold up for a while especially with the margin we put on them.”

Looking ahead, the Anteaters will go on the road to take on the Santa Clara Broncos at the Leavey Center on Saturday, Nov. 27.

Angus Wong is a Sports Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at anguscw@uci.edu.