BREN EVENTS CENTER -- On several different fronts, the key to UC
Irvine's 81-69 men's basketball victory over nonconference visitor
Sacramento State Saturday night came down to reversal.
First, it was the Anteaters' ability to reverse the ball
offensively -- swing it to the weak side to attack the defensive
flank -- that led to a second-half turnaround.
UCI's 53 points in the final 20 minutes turned a one-point
halftime deficit into a comfortable win and also avenged a
disappointing 64-56 road setback last season to the Hornets (1-4).
For UCI senior center Greg Ethington, the juxtaposition involved
dispensing foul trouble, rather than being saddled by it.
The 6-foot-8 Ethington scored 19 of his career-high 24 points
after intermission, virtually all of which came from strong finishing
moves in the lane, or resulting fouls that allowed him to make 11 of
14 foul shots after intermission.
And though he did foul out with 1:15 remaining, his second
exclusion of the campaign, he had only two fouls until the final 5:13
and played a season-high 36 minutes.
He had 13 points and 46 minutes combined in road losses last week
to USC and UCLA.
In yet another turnabout, Ethington reached his scoring apex
against the team that signaled the beginning of, arguably, the
deepest abyss of his UCI career.
"Last year's [Sacramento State] game was the day I learned I may
have a problem with my grades," Ethington recalled of an academic
snafu that sidelined him for four games last season.
On this night, in its final game before taking nine days off --
most of which will be dedicated to taking finals -- the Anteaters
(2-2) passed a strong test provided by a quick and energetic band of
"They do a good job of applying pressure and they're very
athletic," UCI Coach Pat Douglass said of a Sacramento State squad
that had forced opponents into an average of 22.3 turnovers in its
four contests. "And they really got us on the offensive boards,
especially in that first half (a 13-3 advantage before the break).
"But I thought our kids adjusted well in the second half. We
didn't allow as much penetration and, offensively, we broke down
their pressure a little better. In the first half, we weren't getting
the ball reversed. When we got the ball reversed a little bit, we got
some penetration and created some shots."
Junior point guard Aaron Fitzgerald finally broke through against
the visitors' smothering man-to-man defense, penetrating and kicking
to trigger a crucial 12-2 UCI run that helped put the game away.
With 5:49 left and the Anteaters up, 61-57, Fitzgerald set up
Ethington for a layin he made while being fouled.
After Shamar Armstrong netted a pair of free throws, Fitzgerald
again fed Ethington near the foul line, after drawing Ethington's man
to him to stop his penetration. Ethington, shielding the ball from a
defender with his body, converted the basket, drew the foul and, this
time, completed the three-point play.
Fitzgerald, who finished with a game-high six assists, found
forward Darren Fells for an easy layup to keep the UCI roll going and
Jeff Gloger capped the surge with a baseline drive that resulted in
yet another layup.
"[The Hornets'] quickness and aggressiveness got to us the first
half," said Ethington, who had five points and just two field-goal
attempts before intermission. "But we were able to get ball reversal
to take away some of their defensive pressure and create better
passing lanes [in the second half]. We were most effective when our
guards were penetrating and creating, and that was [Gloger] and Ross
[Schraeder], as well as [Fitzgerald.]"
The 12-2 burst, which ended with 2:15 remaining, created a 73-59
cushion that proved more than enough.
Ethington, who grabbed eight rebounds, finished 5 of 10 from the
field and 14 of 18 from the foul line.
"I thought Greg played like a senior in the second half," Douglass
said. "His play inside was critical."
Patrick Sanders, a redshirt freshman, had a game-high 10 rebounds
in 18 minutes to help the Anteaters match the visitors' rebound total
"I thought Patrick came in and played very athletically." Douglass
UCI's own defensive pressure, a continual area of improvement from
last season, helped produce an anemic 27.8% field-goal-shooting
performance by the visitors (23 of 73). Struggling in the shooting
department, Sacramento lost its final lead with 9:11 remaining.
Schraeder finished with 14 points and Armstrong added 10 off the
bench for the winners.
Zots -- UCI came into Saturday's games leading the Big West
Conference in scoring offense (80.3 points per game) ... UCI also
entered the game second in the conference in rebounds per game (40)
and second in field-goal-percentage defense (.409) ... The Anteaters
next game is Dec. 14 at Santa Clara and their next home contest is
Dec. 21 against New Mexico State.
UC Irvine 81, Sacramento State 69
Sacramento State -- Pugh 9, Adams 0, Perry 0, J. Harris 15, E.J. Harris 9, Freeman 12, Bausley 11, McKay 6, Roberts 4, Beekman 2, Gilzene 1. 3-pt. goals -- Bausley 2, J. Harris 1, E.J. Harris 1. Fouled out -- Perry. Technicals -- None. UC Irvine --
Ethington 24, Fells 8, Gloger 8, Schraeder 14, Fitzgerald 8, Armstrong 10, Sanders 4, Campbell 3, Metelski 2. 3-pt. goals -- Schraeder 2, Armstrong 2, Fitzgerald 1, Campbell 1. Fouled out -- Ethington. Technicals -- None. Halftime -- Sacramento State,