Riverside, which connected on one of six three-point tries before intermission (16.7%), made five of 13 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes to finish six of 19 from threedom (31.6%). The Highlanders came in shooting just 24.7% from three-point range.
The visitors were 13 for 27 from inside the three-point line (48.1%).
Douglass was impressed with a program that has been mired in the Big West basement, since finishing ninth in the then-10-team conference in 2004-05.
“[The Highlanders] played hard,” Douglass said. “They get into a [defensive] stance and they compete.”
UCI, which had nine scholarship players dressed for the game, 10 overall, will now attempt to compete away from campus, where they are 1-11 this season. The Anteaters begin a stretch of four straight conference road games Thursday at conference-leading Cal State Northridge (14-4, 6-0).
Douglass also praised the play of senior reserve guard Marcus McIntosh, who was very active on the wing of the zone and chipped in eight points, including a pair of three-pointers in the first 5:47. McIntosh’s defensive play helped him earn the starting nod in the second half, as junior starter Kevin Bland finished without a point in 19 minutes. Bland, however, had five rebounds.
Douglass said some relief may be on the way, noting that junior guard Trey Harris, who along with senior guard Chuma Awaji have been out with academic issues, might be available to play next week.
Big West Conference
UC Irvine 67, UC Riverside 53
UCR – Soto 9, Diggs 11, Scott 6, S. Cunningham 5, Barlow 2, L. Cunningham 12, Gates 6, Creppy 2.
3-pt. goals – Diggs 3, L. Cunningham 2, Soto 1.
Fouled out – Gates.
UCI – Sanders 21, Bland 0, Fells 16, Hunter 10, Lauer 5, McIntosh 8, DeCasas 7.
3-pt. goals – Sanders 3, McIntosh 2, Hunter 1, Lauer 1, DeCasas 1.
Fouled out – None.
Halftime – UCI, 30-28.
BARRY FAULKNER may be reached at (714) 966-4615 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.