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Tigers dump Anteaters

Visiting Pacific locks down Wise (nine points) and limits UCI to lowest output in 19 games Thursday night.

January 28, 2010|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — Its close proximity to the blue Pacific is a recruiting advantage for the UC Irvine men’s basketball program. But a more meaningful advantage was gained by the black-and-orange-clad University of the Pacific at the Bren Events Center Thursday night.

The visiting Tigers’ physical defense came at the hosts in waves, helped frustrate the Anteaters, most notably their sophomore star Eric Wise, in Pacific’s 61-50 Big West Conference triumph in front of 995.

UCI’s point total was its lowest since its 89-42 trouncing at Texas on Nov. 15, a span of 19 games.

Likewise, Wise struggled to be productive. The 6-foot-5 standout, who came in leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists, made just three of 11 field-goal tries on his way to nine points, about half of his average.

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It was only the third time all season that Wise failed to score in double figures. He was held to just five points (missing seven of his eight field-goal attempts) in the first meeting against Pacific (Jan. 16 in Stockton). He also had five points against Texas.

“I think we have four post guys, three of whom have pretty good size and length and we can try to stay in front him,” Pacific Coach Bob Thomason said of his team’s ability to hold Wise down (four for 19 from the field this season, just 21%).

Wise, visibly agitated about having defenders draped upon him in the lane, was three of six from the foul line. He did have a team-high eight rebounds and added three assists, one blocked shot and no turnovers.

“When he had angles to the basket, we either fouled him or he made baskets,” Thomason said. “We tried to keep putting bodies on him and trying not to foul. I think when he shoots a lot of free throws is when he has his big games. We were just trying to keep him in front of us and make him shoot over us.”

Douglass, who played with Thomason at Pacific, said his best friend’s game plan worked.

“They play good defense,” Douglass said of the Tigers (13-6, 6-1 in conference), who came in leading the Big West in scoring defense (61.2 points in all games), as well as atop the conference standings. “They tried to square [Wise] up. But he had some good looks. He had some drives and some opportunities. But he’s a scorer, so when he can’t score, he gets frustrated. He’s still a sophomore and we expect a lot out of him, sometimes, for a sophomore.”

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