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Men's Basketball: 'Eaters heat up, top UOP

UC Irvine drains six three-pointers in just more than five minutes to pull away from Pacific.

February 20, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — UC Irvine has shuffled, sweat and sacrificed all men's basket ball season to foster its reputation as a hard-nosed defensive team that grinds on seemingly every possession.

But for a stretch of just more than five minutes, midway through the second half Wednesday night against Pacific, the Anteaters nearly saw that label washed away under an avalanche of three-point baskets.

With the score tied, 38-38, UCI made four straight three-pointers and converted six of seven scoring possessions with field goals from beyond the arc to assume a 58-47 lead. The hosts held on for a 68-57 Big West Conference victory that lifts them into a tie for third with idle Hawaii.

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UCI (15-13, 9-6 in conference) also remained unbeaten in eight conference home games and upped its home record this season to 11-1. UCI is also 9-0 this season when holding its opponent to fewer than 60 points.

Senior Mike Wilder began the perimeter barrage with back-to-back three-pointers within a 19-second span, the second with 11:18 left in the game.

After the Tigers scored inside, Travis Souza connected from threedom on successive possessions for the 'Eaters, using 47 seconds to accumulate all six of his points. After a Will Davis layin put UCI up, 53-42, with 8:02 left, UCI freshman Alex Young, then senior Daman Starring drained consecutive three balls and UCI had an insurmountable cushion.

"We've had games where we all shot well, throughout the entire game," said Starring, who led the winners with 16 points, including two of four from threedom. "But that was just a quick burst [in which] we shot really well."

Starring, who is now nine for 13 from beyond the arc the last two games, said it was the best shooting stretch of the season for the Anteaters, who made their final six three-point tries to finish eight of 16 from beyond the arc.

Wilder, who added a three-pointer late in the first half to help secure UCI's 30-26 lead at the break, was three for five from beyond the arc and did not even have a two-point try. Souza and Starring had a pair of threes, while Young, the lone starter not to score in double figures with four, completed the 'Eaters' outside outburst. Young did have a team-best five assists.

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