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Threes a charm for UCI

UCI makes six of nine three-point tries in first half, holds on to earn road win and stay in first-place tie.

February 01, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Without arguably its best player and coming off a lopsided loss that extended its Big West Conference losing streak to two games, the UC Irvine men's basketball team went a long way to maintaining its hopes of a regular-season conference crown Saturday night.

Or perhaps one should say they Anteaters went long distance, as they drilled six of nine first-half three-pointers to turn an 11-4 deficit into a 39-28 intermission advantage on their way to a 64-50 victory at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The win allowed UCI (14-9, 5-2 in conference) to remain tied for first place with UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State, heading into Thursday's home date with Long Beach State.

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Freshman guard Luke Nelson, who made a career-best six three-pointers in Thursday's 80-60 loss at UCSB, hit his first three three-point attempts against the Mustangs to account for his nine first-half points.

UCI sophomore guard Alex Young drained an off-balance three at the buzzer to finish two for three from threedom on his way to 11 first-half points, as the Anteaters continued to try to find a way to overcome the loss of their best inside scorer in the 6-foot-8 junior forward Will Davis.

Davis, who missed his second staight game with a back ailment, is the team's leading rebounder (6.9 per game) and third-leading scorer (11.4). He is expected to be back on Thursday for the 7:30 p.m. tipoff at the Bren Events Center.

UCI made just one three-pointer in the second half, by Nelson, to finish seven for 16 from beyond the arc. UCI shot 48.1% from the field (25 for 52) against a Cal Poly team that came in leading the Big West in scoring defense.

The visitors also managed to prevail inside as well, finishing with a 39-34 rebounding advantage.

Cal Poly, which made eight of 23 three-point attempts, including five for 15 in the second half, shot just 30.4% from the field to drop their second straight conference game and fall to 8-13, 4-4.

Nelson, who had a carer-high 26 points at Santa Barbara, finished with a game-high 15 points, while adding five rebounds and four assists.

Young had 14 points with five assists, three rebounds and two steals and made five of seven field-goal tries.

Sophomore Mike Best, who started in place of Davis, had 10 points and three rebounds.

Junior John Ryan came off the bench to collect six points and five rebounds, while fellow reserve Dominique Dunning had seven points and five boards for the winners.

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