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UCI Hands UCR Their First Home Loss of the Season with a 68-51 Victory

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The UC Irvine Anteaters (6-4, 1-0) defeated the UC Riverside Highlanders (7-5, 1-1) at the Student Recreation Center (SRC) Stadium in Riverside, California on Saturday, Jan. 8 to open their 2021-2022 Big West Conference expedition.

Highlander senior forward JP Moorman II scored the first basket of the game, giving UCR the lead 2-0. Moorman then scored 16 points and had four rebounds, one assist, and four fouls in 21 minutes of action for UCR.

Highlander redshirt junior center Callum McRae assisted graduate student guard Dominick Pickett with a driving layup to make it a 4-0 lead for UCR. McRae, who is, as of Jan. 9, the leading rebounder in the Big West Conference, also scored the next two points with an assist by Moorman, giving UCR an early 6-0 lead over the Anteaters. 

McRae scored 10 points, adding five assists and a team high six rebounds in the loss.

The Highlanders then scored a three-pointer by sophomore guard Wil Tattersall putting them ahead, 9-0, on the Anteaters. 

With 16:11 left in the first half, UCI scored their first points as redshirt sophomore guard Justin Hohn made a three-pointer, cutting down the UCR lead down to six.

Hohn had 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two turnovers in 27 minutes of action for the Anteaters.  He scored his second three-pointer off of an assist from sophomore guard DJ Davis, making the score 6-12 with UCR still in the lead. 

UCI capped a 7-0 run with a couple free throws from junior forward Austin Johnson tying the game at 16 apiece with 10:11 left in the first half. 

Irvine junior guard Isaiah Lee made one out of two free throws, giving UCI their first lead of the night, 17-16, with 9:15 left in the first half.

Pickett then drilled a huge three-point bucket with 5:58 left in the first half, taking the lead back for UCR, 25-21.

The final points of the first half came with 35 seconds left as Hohn assisted Johnson with a floating jumpshot to make it a one-point game for UCI, but the advantage still went to UCR, 28-29.

UCI made the first shot of the second half as redshirt senior forward Collin Welp assisted Johnson with a floating jump shot to give UCI the lead, 30-29. Welp was the Anteaters’ star of the match with a game high 30 points, eight rebounds and an assist in 30 minutes. Welp continued his hot start into the second half with an offensive putback following a missed three from Irvine sophomore guard DJ Davis with 18:26 left in the half.

With 15:36 left, UCR took back the lead at 36-34.

However, Welp spun off a defender  and buried a layup off the glass, bringing the game to a tie.. Welp added two more fadeaway jumpers, giving UCI a  40-36 advantage. He then scored two free throws to bump up UCI’s lead, a 42-36, with 12:24 left in the game.

Junior guard Zyon Pullin scored UCR’s first points in over four minutes as he added two free throws, making the score 38-42 with 11:49 left.

Moorman then added a one handed dunk with 9:38 left in the game to cut the UCI lead down to six, 40-46.

Welp added a quick basket and the foul to increase UCI’s lead, 49-40, with 9:09 left. UCI had their largest lead of the game with 7:40 left as Welp scored a layup to put them up 53-41.Welp tied his season high with 24 points following a fadeaway bucket with 6:50 left in the game.

With 5:35 left in the game, McRae added two free throws to cut the UCI lead down to 10, 47-57.

Welp scored a floating jump shot off the glass with 4:15 left in the game, giving UCI a 59-47 lead. UCI continued to dominate with a nice step back three-pointer by Davis to make it 62-47 with 3:43 left. With 32 seconds left, Welp scored the final two points for UCI to secure them a  68-51 victory. 25 of Welp’s 30 points came in the second half.

The win was big for UCI after three canceled games and a postponement due to COVID-19-related issues. With this win, UC Irvine puts a stop to both UC Riverside’s two-game winning streak and their own three-game losing streak.

UC Irvine will come back home to Irvine to face off against UC San Diego (8-7, 2-2) at the Bren Events Center on Tuesday, Jan 11 at 7 p.m.


Marcos Gonzalez is a 2021-2022 Sports Staff Writer. He can be reached at marcosg9@uci.edu.