A month ago, UC Irvine Coach Colleen Matsuhara took her team to the Bren Center to witness a photo shoot involving the Big West tournament trophy.
"Tamera Thomas has a comment for every occasion," Matsuhara said, "and I remember her saying, 'They might as well just leave it here for us."'
Thomas had all the answers Saturday with seven of nine free throws in the final minutes and the Anteaters indeed took the trophy with a 65-53 victory over University of the Pacific to win the Big West tournament championship and earn their first NCAA tournament berth before 741 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Thomas had a team-high 17 points for the Anteaters (19-10), who made 18 of 23 free throws in the final 4:45 against Pacific (20-12).
The Anteaters put together a 13-5 run midway in the second half to take control.