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UCI takes home win

Men's Basketball

Anteaters claim first Big West home victory of season as Flowers nets 13 of his 17 points after halftime.

January 28, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

IRVINE — Without a home victory in three previous Big West Conference games this season and only two wins over Division I programs in the Bren Events Center, the UC Irvine student rooting section can be forgiven for lacking the inspiration and, perhaps, the opportunity to storm the court following Saturday's 65-57 triumph over conference rival UC Riverside.

So, after earning their first Big West Conference home win in a little more than 11 months, Anteaters players took it upon themselves to storm the crowd.

UCI players, in single file, ran around in the isle between the stands and the court after the final buzzer to accept and deliver congratulations to some of the season-high 4,382 homecoming crowd.

"That's just us," junior point guard Derick Flowers said of the impromptu interactive celebration that he helped create by scoring a team-high 17 points and draining seven of eight three-throw attempts in the final 62 seconds. "We're the clowns of the school. We like to have fun."

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Fun indeed for UCI, which trailed, 51-47, with 7:42 left, then outscored the Highlanders, 18-6, the rest of the way to improve to 8-13, 4-4 in the Big West.

Flowers was one of several heroes for the 'Eaters who overcame 29.6% shooting in the second half — including one of 12 from three-point range for 8.3% — by coming up big at the foul line (20 for 26) and getting down and dirty on defense and the boards to end a four-game losing streak against UCR (10-11, 4-4).

"We were far from playing a clean game, but we played well enough to win," Turner said. "I'm really proud of the way we guarded and we worked really hard on the boards [posting a 35-30 advantage].

"We haven't played particularly well [at home] in conference," Turner said. "We've played half-games but not a full one. If you look at what happened in this game, we were down by four with about eight minutes left. Many of the plays we made coming down the stretch were hustle and energy plays that the crowd helps you with. Part of having a good program is having a good environment in the gym and our students are really vital for that."

Also vital, Turner said, was his team's trapping, full-court pressure, which helped create a 22-12 advantage in points off turnovers. Riverside committed 19 turnovers, three more than the hosts.

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