UCI’s Supporting Cast Steals Show in Victory


What the money players couldn’t deliver for UC Irvine Saturday, the bargain-rate guys did--a little offense.

Guards Jason Flowers and Brian Scoggin, neither of whom have ever taken a recruiting trip, kept the Anteaters from losing to Division II Sonoma State. They had half of Irvine’s points, some at key moments, in a 51-41 victory in front of 746 in the Bren Center.

Technically, the Anteaters (3-7) won going away because the Cossacks (4-7) made only one of 21 shots and scored three points in the last 11 minutes 54 seconds. As a result, Irvine gave up the fewest points since Feb. 24, 1980.


That was either because of Irvine’s intensity on defense or Sonoma State’s poor shot selection, or both.

“When they shot, we had people in the vicinity and we didn’t foul,” UCI Coach Pat Douglass said. “That was encouraging.”

Which is more than can be said about the Anteaters on offense Saturday--at least the Anteaters who are on full-ride scholarships. It took plays from Flowers, a walk-on, and Scoggin, who has a partial scholarship, to provide the points.

Scoggin’s 15-foot jumper tied the score with 11:35 left, 38-38. Flowers scored off a pass from Scoggin and then on a 15-foot jumper for a 45-39 lead with 3:54 left. Scoggin’s two free throws with 39 seconds left clinched the victory.

“I needed to pick up our intensity,” Scoggin said. “These are tough games. When you play a Division II school, you sometimes play down to them. They were up for this and we played lackadaisical.”

The Anteaters certainly did at the start. Irvine went scoreless for the first 3:42 and was trailing, 14-4, six minutes into the game. That could have been attributed to playing a Division II team, or to the Anteaters’ 10-day layoff.


“Neither of the above,” Douglass said. “I can’t account for it.

“We have worked them real hard, doing two-a-days, to get ready for [Big West] Conference play. Maybe we were a little tired.”

If that was the case, then Flowers and Scoggin must have been catching catnaps this week when Douglass wasn’t looking. Or maybe it was just that they were a little more hungry.

Flowers, who attended Bellflower High, was a student at UCLA last season and didn’t play basketball. Scoggin did play, at Saddleback College, but received no full-ride offers from Division I schools.

With guard Malachi Edmond out because of a sprained foot, Flowers and Scoggin became even more essential. Yet no one, not even Flowers and Scoggin, could have dreamed they would play such a role.

Scoggin, who had played 13 minutes in the previous five games, played 26 minutes Saturday. He was four of six from the field and scored 12 points in a reserve role.

Flowers, who started his second consecutive game, played 31 minutes. He made five of 10 shots and scored 14 points.


The rest of the Anteaters were seven of 20 from the field. Irvine had only one offensive rebound.

“Scoggin gave us a big lift,” Douglass said. “He came from a program where they went up and down the court. It’s taken him some time to adjust to half-court basketball.

“Jason has experienced more success and has been able to establish himself. That has led to more confidence on the floor.”

On Saturday, it also led to points.

It wasn’t just that Flowers and Scoggin were scoring, they also kept the Anteaters from collapsing early and late in the game. Flowers and Scoggin had 14 of Irvine’s first 17 points, leading the Anteaters on a 15-1 run after their disastrous start.

“It really is a different mind-set when you’re starting than when you’re coming off the bench,” said Flowers, who had four assists. “All year, we seemed to start slow and fight back. I wanted to help get us out fast so we wouldn’t have to fight back. We had to fight back anyway.”