Hunter too much for Mustangs

BASKETBALL: He goes for career-high 20 points that helps trigger efficient, fluid offense at Cal Poly.

January 10, 2009|By Barry Faulkner

SAN LUIS OBISPO — It was the Anteaters and not the Mustangs who reached a sustained full gallop Saturday night at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

UC Irvine, led by junior guard Michael Hunter’s career-high 20 points, as well as eight assists, one shy of matching his career high, used an 18-3 run midway through the second half to run away with an 80-63 Big West Conference victory.

It was execution on the offensive end and consistent effort on the defensive end that helped UCI (4-11, 2-1 in conference) break open a game that was tied with 1:04 left in the first half.


Sophomore guard Patrick Rembert made a 10-foot runner to beat the second-half buzzer and give the visitors a 36-32 advantage.

Cal Poly (3-11, 0-4) tried to interrupt the ’Eaters’ offensive flow by going to a zone early in the second half. But UCI’s zone offense produced as efficiently as its man-to-man scheme.

“We’ve really been working on our half-court offense in practice,” said Hunter, who made five of seven second-half field-goal tries, including both of his three-point attempts. Hunter’s penetration and free-flowing ease with the pass or the shot, helped UCI look as fluid as it has all season.

“It was a real fun game,” said Hunter, who finished eight of 15 from the field, four of eight from threedom, while adding three rebounds and one steal. He had just two turnovers in 35 minutes.

“We knew we had to get this one, after not playing as well as we would have liked in the last five minutes at UC Santa Barbara [a loss Thursday]. I really wanted to come out here and get this one.”

Hunter was the most brilliant star for the visitors, who have won three of their last five following a 1-9 start. But there were plenty of heroes for the winners.

“I thought we got strong contributions from a lot of guys,” said UCI Coach Pat Douglass, whose satisfaction showed with a beaming grin that began in the waning moments, as he applauded the UCI debuts of walk-ons Jonas Lalehzadeh and Rashaad Ubah.

Freshman Eric Wise had 16 points and seven rebounds and senior Kevin Bland added 11 points, a career-high seven assists, and five boards.

Rembert had nine points, four rebounds and two assists in 26 reserve minutes, while junior Zak Atkinson chipped in nine points, three rebounds and two blocked shots to help UCI post a 40-26 rebounding advantage.

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