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'Eaters remain on a roll

BASKETBALL: With starting five in place, UCI dispatches visiting UC Riverside, 64-48, for second straight victory.

January 19, 2007|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — A UC Irvine men's basketball team that appears to have just hit its stride, wasn't about to stub its toe Thursday night against downtrodden Big West Conference visitor UC Riverside.

So, on the heels of perhaps its most important win of the season — a 67-42 victory Saturday at Pacific — the Anteaters experienced a relatively obstacle-free 64-48 triumph over the Highlanders, who have now lost 14 straight.

The win gave the Anteaters (9-10, 3-2 in conference) their second straight win, their sixth in seven home games this season and their fifth in their last seven overall.

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It also gave them little reason to question the confidence that emerged from the decisive thumping of three-time defending conference champion UOP, according to UCI Coach Pat Douglass.

"This was not a game we wanted to overlook," said Douglass, whose team doused any hint of complacency by seizing a 10-0 lead.

The Highlanders (3-16, 0-6) never trailed by fewer than six. Down, 22-16, with 3:38 left in the first half, Riverside saw UCI reel off 10 straight points to reestablish firm command.

UCI scored the first five points after intermission to claim a 37-20 edge, then answered a five-point Highlander run with a 15-0 burst of its own to create a 52-23 bulge.

It was a continuation of the good fortune that has followed since Douglass settled on a starting five of center Darren Fells, wings Nic Campbell and Adam Templeton, off-guard Patrick Sanders and point guard Michael Hunter.

"I think it's a good combination," Douglass said of the starting lineup he debuted in Stockton. "Sanders [who has played primarily forward and wing] has been the key. He has to guard a guard. But that allows us to have two, possibly three shooters [Campbell, Templeton and Hunter], so it's really stretching the defense. Add to that the inside play of Darren and Pat and our overall size is pretty good. I like [the lineup]. It's one we want to have."

Douglass said the win at Pacific could be a turning point in the Anteaters' season, which began a critical stretch Thursday with the first of three straight Big West home games.

UCI, now tied for fourth with Cal State Northridge, plays host to third-place Cal State Fullerton Saturday night at 7.

The Titans were defeated, 95-85, Thursday at Long Beach State, which shares the conference lead with UC Santa Barbara, both at 3-1.

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