Bob Hawking didn't like what he saw. UC Irvine point guard Raimonds Miglinieks had that familiar look of concentration on his face and the Cal State Fullerton coach could see his team's season coming to an end.
The overachieving Titans had taken the underachieving Anteaters to the final minutes of Thursday's Big West Conference tournament game, and the outcome was still in doubt. But the junior from Latvia was doing his thing, and that meant only bad things were in store for Fullerton.
Irvine trailed, 69-67, with 1 minute 16 seconds to play when the Anteaters called a timeout and set up their bread-and-butter play, the pick and roll. When two Titan defenders rolled with freshman forward Kevin Simmons, leaving Miglinieks open, he made a three-point shot.
Then, when Winston Peterson's jump hook spun off the rim, Miglinieks was there for the rebound. And with 43 seconds left, Miglinieks whipped a pass through the key to Simmons, whose layup put the Anteaters up by three points and on their way to a 76-69 victory in front of 3,711 in the Thomas & Mack Center.
Irvine (12-15) meets top-seeded Utah State at 6 tonight in the quarterfinals.
"He may not be a big-time athlete, but he's a big-time point guard," Hawking said.
Fullerton (9-20) used a diamond-and-one defense to try to keep him from repeating his performance of Saturday night, when he had a career-high 25 points and 10 assists during Irvine's victory at Titan Gym. Miglinieks finished with eight points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.
Nevada Las Vegas 77, San Jose State 66--UNLV's three-point shooters found the range midway through the second half and the Rebels outscored the Spartans, 19-10, in the final eight minutes.
Guard Damien Smith, who made five of seven three-pointers, scored 23 points for UNLV, which will play second-seeded New Mexico State today at noon. In other games, Long Beach State will play UC Santa Barbara at 2:30 and Nevada will play Pacific at 9.