'Eaters drop fourth straight

Wise has season-best 23 points and Moore adds 21, but LMU pulls away late in first half and gets last laugh Thursday night.

December 30, 2010|By Barry Faulkner,

IRVINE — When UC Irvine men's basketball coach Russell Turner said after the Anteaters' fourth straight loss Thursday that his team has a funny personality, he didn't mean funny hah-hah.

Instead, he was referring to the recent slump that has coincided with junior star Eric Wise's return to the starting lineup.

Wise, a preseason all-conference pick who strained a hip flexor muscle in the second game at USC, missed five games and came off the bench in two others before starting the last four contests. UCI was 5-2 in games in which he did not play or start.


But despite Wise's best game of the season — he had a season-best 23 points and led the Anteaters (6-8) with six rebounds — UCI failed to overcome an offense lull that began late in the first half and fell to visiting Loyola Marymount, 87-80, in front of 1,306 at the Bren Events Center.

After UCI knotted the score for the ninth time with 1:53 left before halftime, LMU (7-7) ended the half with an 8-0 run.

After UCI senior Patrick Rembert opened the second half with a three-pointer, the Lions scored 13 straight on their way to an eventual 19-point cushion.

UCI rallied to within 68-64 with 5:00 remaining, but three straight layups spurred a 6-0 LMU run that allowed the visitors to pull away.

UCI senior Darren Moore had 21 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists and was two of three from three-point range.

And UCI sophomore Mike Wilder continued to sparkle off the bench, chipping in 12 points and netting three of six from beyond the arc.

But Rembert, who finished two for 11 from the field and has made 11 of 42 field-goal tries during the losing streak (26.2%), was emblematic of some UCI offensive woes that Turner said he will need to figure out.

After Pavol Losonsky's three-pointer made it 29-29 with 3:19 left in the first half, UCI went 10 minutes with only one field goal.

"This team has a funny personality," said Turner, in his first season at the helm. "It has been particularly interesting for me to watch this change as we've reintroduced Eric [into the starting five]. That's not Eric's fault. I've got a strange mix of things going on, it seems like. And I'm not quite sure what it is, but we've got to get to where we're playing better."

Turner expressed disappointment in his players' rebounding (a 37-28 deficit), their mindset, and their inability to overcome shooting woes (39.7% from the field).

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