UCI stumbles in opener

IRVINE — UC Irvine men's basketball coach Russell Turner declined to share what he told his players after a 73-68 Big West Conference-opening loss to visiting UC Riverside on Tuesday.

But the Anteaters surely will hope they never here such disparaging words again.

UCI (6-7) led, 49-39, with 12:13 remaining, but went the next 10:34 with only one field goal. The Highlanders (5-7) used that cold spell to not only regain their bearings, but also take control of the game.

Riverside, which came in 1-7 on the road this season, began its comeback with an 8-0 spurt that turned into a 16-2 run. And the visitors never trailed again.

UCI made just eight of 30 field-goal attempts after intermission (21.4%) to lose for the third straight time against the Highlanders.

The Anteaters finished seven of 24 from three-point range, including just three of 14 after the break, and were outrebounded, 52-37.

UCI also made just 19 of 30 foul shots, while Riverside netted 26 of 36 from the line, including 13 of 14 in the final 1:35.

Riverside senior guard Javon Borum was 10 for 10 from the foul line in the second half, 12 for 12 for the game, on his way to a career-high 30 points.

Borum netted 23 points in the second half, when he connected on five of six field-goal tries, including all three of his three-pointers.

Borum sank two three-pointers during the aforementioned 16-2 surge and finished four of seven from beyond the arc.

Outside of Borum, who wound up seven of 13 from the field, Riverside made just 14 of 50 field-goal attempts (28%).

"You can win when you don't shoot well, but we didn't do enough of the other things well to win," Turner said. "The difference was, our level of play dropped when we missed shots."

Turner lamented the fact that Borum did not record an assist, though junior teammate Kareem Nitoto had eight of those to go with his 13 points and seven rebounds.

Front-court starters Kevin Bradshaw and Elliott Berry combined for just 14 points for the visitors. But they each collected 10 rebounds.

UCI junior star Eric Wise had seven points and nine rebounds. He was three of nine from the field.

Sophomore guard Damon Starring matched his season-high with 19 points, making seven of 12 from the field and four of six from three-point range.

Sophomore Mike Wilder had 11 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.

But seniors Darren Moore (13 points), Patrick Rembert (nine points) and Pavol Losonsky (five points and four rebounds while fouling out in 21 minutes), personified the disappointing performance.

Moore and Rembert were a combined four for 22 from the field and they paired to miss all seven of their three-point attempts.

A three-pointer by Wilder with 1:39 left and another by freshman Chris McNealy with nine seconds remaining pulled UCI within three points each time.

But Riverside closed it out to halt UCI's streak of conference-opening wins at two.

"We didn't play well enough to win and, give Riverside credit, they did," Turner said. "They grounded us down."

Big West Conference

UC Riverside 73, UC Irvine 68

UCR – Bradshaw 9, Elliott 5, Borum 30, Nitoto 13, Martin 10, Shearry 4, Cowlah 2.

3-pt. goals – Borum 4, Martin 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

UCI – Wise 7, Losonsky 5, Starring 19, Moore 13, Rembert 9, Wilder 11, McNealy 3, Flowers 1.

3-pt. goals – Starring 4, Wilder 1, McNealy 1.

Fouled out – Losonsky.

Halftime – UCI, 38-31.

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