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UCI topples CSUN

BASKETBALL: Fells leads the way with 19 points, nine rebounds as Anteaters trounce Big West-leading Northridge.

March 02, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — The UC Irvine men’s basketball team failed to gain ground on fourth-place Pacific as it tries to collect a top-four finish and the corresponding Big West Tournament bye.

But with their convincing 82-66 Big West Conference home win over conference-leading Cal State Northridge Saturday, the Anteaters proved, regardless of their tournament seed, they can not only play with, but defeat the best the Big West has to offer.

It was the 11th win on campus in as many tries for Irvine (14-14, 8-6 in conference), which will close out the regular season with home dates with UC Davis (Thursday) and Cal State Fullerton (Saturday).

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Senior Darren Fells led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, while sophomore point guard Michael Hunter had 18 points, tying a career high, and senior Patrick Sanders added 16 points in front of a homecoming crowd of 3,173.

Hunter, who bounced back from a groin injury suffered late in Thursday’s win over visiting Long Beach, made a four-point play with 4:34 that helped stave off Northridge’s best late charge.

Senior guard Marcus McIntosh and sophomore forward Chad DeCasas chipped in nine points apiece for the winners.

Cal State Northridge fell to 19-8, 11-3, sustaining its most lopsided loss since an 85-59 setback to Gonzaga on Dec. 8.

The win extended UCI’s winning streak to a season-high three.

The Anteaters opened a 39-29 halftime lead behind Fells, who was five of five from the field to help the hosts shoot 57.7% from the field (15 of 26) before intermission. Fells was also two for two from the foul line in the first 20 minutes to enter the second half with 12 points.

The Anteaters used a 9-0 run that included a three-pointer by DeCasas to take a 33-21 advantage with 5:58 left before intermission.

UCI opened the second half on a 10-4 spurt to open a 49-33 lead, but the Matadors chipped away over the next nine minutes. And when junior guard Deon Tresvant netted back-to-back three-pointers with 8:34 remaining, the visitors had pulled within 58-50, prompting a UCI timeout.

Jonathan Heard followed with a layin and, after Fells drained a pair of free throws, junior Tremaine Townsend followed a layin by teammate Josh Jenkins with a three-pointer from the top of the key to pull within 60-57 with 5:18 left.

But Hunter countered with a four-point play and Sanders then netted back-to-back jumpers to cap an 8-0 run and the Anteaters were never threatened again.

Big West Conference

UC Irvine 82, Cal State Northridge 66

CSN – Heard 6, Mels 5, Townsend 11, Jenkins 13, Miller 6, Tresvant 18, Chitwood 5, Haynes 2.

3-pt. goals – Tresvant 4, Chitwood 1, Mels 1, Jenkins 1, Townsend 1.

UCI – Sanders 16, DeCasas 9, Fells 19, McIntosh 9, Hunter 18, Bland 5, Rembert 4, Lauer 2.

3-pt. goals – Hunter 2, Sanders 1, DeCasas 1, Bland 1.

Halftime – UC Irvine, 39-29.


BARRY FAULKNER may be reached at (714) 966-4615 or at barry.faulkner@latimes.com.

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