The UC Irvine Men’s Basketball team (5-1, 0-0) defeated the Bethesda Flames (1-10, 0-0), 86-54, at the Bren Events Center on Dec. 3. This victory extends the Anteaters’ winning streak to five games and keeps them at a perfect 4-0 in front of their home crowd.
The ‘Eater offense struggled to gain its footing early on in the game. Bethesda, on the other hand, started aggressively, blitzing pick and rolls and double-teaming passers before sets could be called. Constantly pawing at the ball and clogging passing lanes, the Flames extinguished Irvine’s attack time and time again.
Bethesda, however, was unable to turn these defensive stops into an offensive spark. Irvine’s guards played hard on the perimeter and prevented anyone from getting inside the paint. With this strategy, Irvine only surrendered eight points for the entire first half.
As the first half continued on, the Flames’ frustration turned into aggression and eventually a plethora of fouls. 11 total fouls in the first half resulted in 13 Anteater free throws, of which 10 were converted .
With halftime drawing near, the Anteater offense came to life. The sets finally started to get off the ground and passes found open players. Cutters consistently opened up good shots and shooters got clean looks from behind the arc.
This momentum persisted in the second half as Irvine came out of the team room with the same electric energy. Increased space and coy defenders allowed for sophomore guard Andre Henry to shine. Hard drives to the rim and aggressive box outs set the tone for the rest of the team, netting him 15 points and nine rebounds for the night.
Henry’s rim-running was complemented by the spacing of redshirt junior forward JC Butler. Butler was five for eight from the field, and his gravity off the ball created opportunities for the entirety of the Irvine offense.
Bethesda couldn’t find a way to match Irvine’s offensive pushes and was ground down for the rest of the game. The final minutes ticked away with sloppy but entertaining play from both teams’ second units until the clock was all zeros.
Benjamin Hendricks is a Sports Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.