UC Irvine Plays for Pride, Pulls Out a Victory : Basketball: Anteaters beat San Jose State in overtime, 86-81. Mulligan’s finale is Saturday.
Jeff Herdman’s shot was big, a three-pointer that pulled UC Irvine back from the verge of its 20th defeat. The Anteaters had fallen behind San Jose State by four points with less than two minutes left Thursday, when Herdman cut the lead to one with a 25-footer.
Terry Cannon’s shot was bigger, though. San Jose State was 11 seconds from losing when Cannon pushed the Spartans into overtime by hitting a three-pointer from the top of the key with 11 seconds left.
“That guy made a great shot,” Herdman said.
In the end, it didn’t matter. It was Irvine that pulled out the victory, 86-81 in overtime, as the ninth and 10th teams in the league faced off in Bren Center in front of 1,123, Irvine’s smallest crowd of the season.
Irvine had a final opportunity in regulation, on an out-of-bounds play after a timeout called by Don May on the court that Mulligan would have just as soon not used. A San Jose player knocked the first pass back out of bounds, and Irvine’s Jeff Von Lutzow got off a half-court shot at the buzzer.
In overtime, Cannon, who scored 18 of his 22 points after halftime, gave San Jose a 77-75 lead with a baseline jumper shortly after the period began. But the Spartans missed their next two shots, and Irvine took a four-point lead on jumpers by Herdman and Cornelius Banks.
San Jose never got closer than two again, as Irvine drove with the ball, effectively drawing fouls. The Anteaters made five of eight in the final 1:57, as San Jose missed a succession of three-point attempts.
“The bottom line is they took it to us offensively, driving,” said San Jose State Coach Stan Morrison. “We either didn’t have enough energy left or we aren’t good enough to defend without fouling.”
With its 10th victory of the season, Irvine (10-19, 5-12) doubled its total in the plus column from last season and climbed into a tie for ninth in the Big West Conference with San Jose State (5-19, 5-12).
Even so, Irvine is eliminated from the eight-team conference tournament, although San Jose State still has a chance. In the final game Saturday against Utah State in the Bren Center, the Anteaters will try to send retiring coach Bill Mulligan out with a victory--and not a 20-loss season.
“This was for Mulligan, mainly,” said Jeff Von Lutzow, who scored 16 points and had five steals. “That and for personal pride. We had a terrible season. We’re not an eighth or ninth place team. I think we’re a third or fourth place team.”
Irvine led by 10 in the first half, but trailed by four with less than two minutes left in regulation before Herdman hit the three-pointer. He scored 21 points. Ricky Butler added 18, despite foul trouble.
“I’ll tell you, I sure have a lot of respect for Stan Morrison, and what he’s done with three guys out,” Mulligan said.
“I feel as if we were luck to win, we’ll take it.”
San Jose had could only take the loss.
“We really wanted to win very badly,” Morrison said.
Add San Jose State associate head coach Stan Stewart to the list of those applying to become the next UC Irvine basketball coach. Stewart also has been an assistant at UC Santa Barbara and at USC, where he also worked for San Jose Coach Stan Morrison. Stewart, who was briefly introduced to Irvine Athletic Director Tom Ford by Morrison at Thursday’s game, said he has not yet formally applied but will. . . . Another add: Rod Baker, an assistant at No. 20 Seton Hall, said he has formally applied. Baker, one of five finalists for the St. Mary’s job, was head coach at Tufts University for five seasons, compiling a 72-52 record before leaving for Seton Hall after a 16-8 season in 1988. . . . Among other coaches who have said they are applying: Ernie Carr, an Irvine assistant; Joe Cravens, an assistant at No. 9 Utah; Brad Holland, a UCLA assistant; Ben Howland, a UC Santa Barbara assistant; John Masi, UC Riverside head coach, and John Olive, a Villanova assistant who said he met with Ford in Orange County last week while on a West Coast recruiting trip that included an interview at St. Mary’s, where he is a finalist.