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'Eaters fade in loss

Established senior stars propel 49ers to comeback in second half and knock UCI from first place.

January 02, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — Most of the Long Beach State starting lineup continued to improve its position among the all-time pantheon of Big West Conference men's basketball Monday night at UC Irvine.

But the Anteaters, picked to finish last in the preseason conference media poll, continued to make an impression of their own during a 74-60 Big West setback that ended UCI's run atop the conference standings at four days.

UCI (4-10, 1-1 in conference) led the 49ers (8-6, 1-0) for most of the first half and held a 32-21 advantage at halftime in front of 1,246 at the Bren Events Center.

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But the visitors, with a heralded cast led by reigning Big West Player of the Year Casper Ware and fellow seniors T.J. Robinson and Larry Anderson, proved too much, while enhancing their already lofty career statistical status.

Robinson collected 14 points and 13 rebounds, the latter giving him 1,003 for his career. He becomes the fourth player in conference history to have 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 points, joining Greg Grant (Utah State), Stacey Augmon (UNLV) and Tony Neal (Cal State Fullerton).

Anderson, who had 13 points and a team-best four assists, became the third player in school history to surpass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. The other two 49ers to accomplish that trio were Ed Ratliff and Lucious Harris.

Ware, who had 19 points, four steals and no turnovers in 35 minutes, continued to display the kind of prowess that has generated some national attention.

Long Beach, however, needed a 9-2 run to start the second half, a swarming, switching man-to-man defense, and a barrage of dunks to help keep UCI from a second straight home upset over their Black-and-Blue rivals.

The 49ers made 18 of 32 field-goal attempts after the break (56.3%) and held UCI to 32.1% from the field (nine for 28) in the final 20 minutes.

With superior height, strength and athleticism, Long Beach muscled its way to 46 points in the paint, 26 more than UCI. The visitors, who had half as many as UCI's 18 turnovers, posted a 20-6 scoring advantage off miscues.

UCI was led by junior point guard Derick Flowers, who had 16 points and four assists. Flowers made four of six three-point attempts.

Junior Daman Starring added 13 points and three assists, while sophomore Chris McNealy chipped in 12 points and five rebounds.

Junior Mike Wilder had seven points and eight rebounds for the 'Eaters, who managed to make nine of 21 three-point attempts.

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