Senior center Ricky Butler scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half Friday night to lead UC Irvine to a 97-88 victory over San Jose State in a Big West Conference game.
Butler, the Anteaters’ leading scorer with a 17.9 average before the game, got three fouls in the first half and played only nine minutes. But his 10 points in the first 3:50 of the second half helped Irvine turn a 57-52 halftime deficit into a 67-66 lead.
The Spartans rallied for a 76-75 lead with 8:20 left after Butler had picked up his fourth foul, but the Anteaters immediately regained the lead on a two consecutive three-point shots by Jeff Herdman and held the lead thereafter.
San Jose State got as close as four points with 1:28 remaining when a three-point shot by Mike Wasserburger made it 92-88. But Dylan Rigdon hit two free throws, Craig Marshall stole a Spartan pass, and Irvine held on.
The Anteaters, who finished last season with a 5-23 record, improved their record to 6-8 overall, 1-1 in the Big West.
“Six wins. That’s more than we had all last season,” Butler said. “It feels good.”
Irvine’s Rigdon and Herdman had 21 points each, and Cornelius Banks added 16. Herdman had four of Irvine’s 11 three-point field goals, breaking by one the Irvine career record by Scott Brooks for three-point baskets. Herdman has 142 in 336 attempts, one fewer attempt than Brooks had.
Like Butler, Herdman did most of his damage in the second half. He scored 13 of his points and had eight of his team-high 10 rebounds after halftime.
Charles Terrell led San Jose State with 17 points, Michael St. Julien had 14 and Philip Crump added 12. St. Julien led San Jose with 11 rebounds.
Irvine held a 24-17 lead midway through the half before San Jose State (2-9, 0-2) rallied for a 42-30 lead with 6:05 remaining. Irvine then cut into the lead to trail by five at halftime.