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Men's Basketball: 'Eaters extend streak

UCI matches efficient offense with stingy defense to throttle LIU Brooklyn in first of three games in three days

November 22, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

In his ongoing quest to see that his team remains hungry, UC Irvine Coach Russell Turner saw his Anteaters gorge themselves at both ends on the first day of a three-day men's basketball buffet known as the 2K Sports Classic Irvine subregional.

The Anteaters, who shot 55% from the field to extend its streak of hitting at least 50% to all five games this season, were as impressive as they have been on defense in an 84-64 home triumph over LIU Brooklyn on Friday night.

The Blackbirds (1-2), who lost by one at No. 23-ranked Indiana earlier this season, made just 21 of 61 field-goal attempts (34.4%) and were bested, 44-29, in the rebounding department as UCI extended its winning streak to three.

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The Anteaters (3-2) will face Boston University (2-2) in Saturday's second game of the three-game round-robin format that simulates what could be a successful run through the Big West Conference Tournament in March.

"We were better defensively tonight than we've been for long stretches and that's the key to being good," Turner said after his team bolted to an 18-point halftime lead and led by as many as 31. "I'm happy that our guys have accepted the challenge to be good, defensively, despite the fact that we are a talented offensive team. It's hard to figure out how to attack us if we take away three-pointers as well as we did tonight"

LIU Brooklyn finished six for 19 from three-point range (31.6%) and had seven of its shots inside the arc blocked.

Mamadou Ndiaye, UCI's 7-foot-6 freshman center, had three blocks and five rebounds to go with his 12 points.

Junior Will Davis, who had 11 of his 12 points in the opening half, had two blocks to become the school's all-time leader in that department. Davis now has 150 career rejections, one better than Adam Parada.

The stingy defense did nothing to take away from the Anteaters' offense, as the unselfish hosts collected 25 assists on 33 field goals and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points, 10 more than the Blackbirds were able to record.

"Sometimes our execution was pretty doggone good," Turner said. "But we're not there yet."

Turner will be more impressed if his team can carry its high level through the three games in three days, something if failed at last March, when after upsetting top-seeded Long Beach State in the conference tournament semifinals, it fell to Pacific in the title game, missing the NCAA Tournament yet again.

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