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Ndaiye, bench pace UCI

Men's Basketball

Freshman center has a double-double and seven blocks to help Anteaters remain tied atop Big West.

January 23, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

Twenty games into a college career already draped with mythology, UC Irvine's 7-foot-6 Goliath has already established some Mamadou's and don'ts.

The don'ts include extreme caution for opponents when entering the vicinity of the basket, before which the Anteaters' wide-eyed leather detector typically anchors himself, his tentacle-like arms raised high to just about rim level.

Ndiaye stood his ground and defended his air space well enough to record seven blocks to help host UCI earn a 72-66 Big West Conference men's basketball victory over Cal State Northridge on Thursday at Bren Events Center. What's more, he produced 10 points and 10 rebounds for the second double-double of his fledgling career.

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"He's a pretty good player," UCI Coach Russell Turner said of the native of Dakar, Senegal, who is proving to be the Dakar Knight of defense for a UCI squad that ranks first among Big West rivals in field-goal-percentage defense and blocks per game. "[The Matadors] did a pretty good job of attacking him. They were clearly trying to get him to foul and he's clearly trying to play without fouling. He did a good job of being big, staying vertical and keeping his arms up. He ends up with seven blocks and he didn't have to go get any of them. He made them come to him and he is improving with all that. I'm pleased with his progress."

Ndiaye's seven blocks give him 66 for the season. He began the week ranked ninth nationally in total blocks. One of those blocks came with 1:10 remaining, with the Matadors trying to decrease a 65-60 deficit that was a tenuous three points 48 seconds earlier.

After Ndiaye rebounded his own block in the lane, UCI milked the clock, while Northridge fouled repeatedly to finally put the Anteaters in the bonus. And in the final 43 seconds, the hosts (13-7, 4-0 in conference), who are now 6-0 in 2014 and tied for first in the Big West with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, made seven of eight foul shots to preserve the win.

The victory appeared all but assured in the first half, when the hosts used a 27-3 run to turn a 5-0 deficit into an 18-point cushion midway through the opening period.

But Northridge (10-10, 2-3) dug in and kept chipping away, closing the deficit to 36-29 at half.

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