Men's Basketball: 'Eaters pound Pacifica

IRVINE — With an experienced rotation that includes five players who collectively average nearly 6-foot-10, the UC Irvine men's basketball team is finding it increasingly difficult to pick on someone its own size these days.

And a fledgling Pacifica University squad without a single senior, with no player taller than 6-5, and an enrollment of roughly 100 compared to UCI's 28,000, hardly fit that bill Thursday at Bren Events Center.

The result was a record-setting 116-47 trouncing by the Anteaters, who followed a one-point overtime road loss to a storied UCLA program on Tuesday by rolling past a third-year program with scant recorded history.

The 69-point margin surpassed the previous UCI best, a 91-23 thumping of Pomona-Pitzer on Dec. 7, 2002. UCI's point total was its second best at Bren Center, surpassed only by a 118-96 victory over Utah State in the arena's debut in January of 1986. It was UCI's highest output since it scored 119 in a 20-point loss at Bradley in December of 1987.

Conor Clifford, a 7-0 freshman, had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 21 reserve minutes to pace a list of standouts for the Anteaters (2-1), who play their next five games on the road.

Junior Chris McNealy and freshman Alex Young had 15 points and seven rebounds each, while Young added six assists to help the hosts tie a single-game school record with 30.

Sophomore Travis Souza had 13 points and six rebounds off the bench, while starters Mike Wilder (12 points) and Will Davis (10) also scored in double figures.

Sophomore Aaron Wright had a team-best eight assists to go with four points, while sophomore John Ryan had a team-best six blocked shots to go with eight points and eight boards.

Sophomore Mike Best produced his seven points and six rebounds all in the first half.

McNealy connected on seven of eight field-goal attempts, Clifford was seven for 10 and Davis was five for seven to help UCI shoot 61.8% from the field (42 for 68).

The Gladiators (0-4), who had 11 shots blocked and at least that many altered by the longer Anteaters, finished 14 for 65 from the field (21.5%). The visitors were seven for 26 from three-point range (26.9%), while UCI netted 12 of its 21 three-point tries (57.1%).

"I liked the unselfishness, which is hard to get in a blowout game," UCI Coach Russell Turner said. "I don't remember us taking a bad shot. The unselfishness is a sign that we believe in each other and have good chemistry and those are good things to have.

"I also like the fact that we brought in guys who had higher minutes [than usual] and they came in and did what I know they can do. There are going to be times when we need every man on our roster to step forward, and performances like tonight make me think that all of our players are ready."

Covina-based Pacifica, which used a nine-hole golf course in Moreno Valley as its campus in 2011-12, hit three three-pointers to take a 9-5 advantage, prompting an obviously disgruntled Turner to call timeout.

"I called timeout because I didn't feel like we contested the shots they made," Turner said. "I reminded my guys gently that we weren't doing that. I think they took that message like men and improved."

After another Gladiators three ball created a 16-16 tie, UCI went on a 42-2 run that ended with a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to draw Pacifica within 58-21 at halftime.

UCI scored the first eight of the second half and continued to build the lead before freshman Reed McConnell's second three-pointer finalized the record-setting bulge with 34 seconds left.

UCI was without senior guard Daman Starring (17 points per game), who sat out with a foot problem that Turner said was not serious.

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner



UC Irvine 116, Pacifica 47

Pac – Weeks 10, Mitchell 5, Payne 7, Oliver 9, Thomas 4, Tolbert 7, Hudson 4, Williams 1.

3-pt. goals – Weeks 2, Oliver 2, Mitchell 1, Payne 1, Tolbert 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

UCI – Davis 10, Folker 4, Wilder 12, McNealy 15, Flowers 4, Clifford 18, Young 15, Souza 13, Ryan 8, Best 7, McConnell 6, Wright 4.

3-pt. goals – Wilder 4, Young 3, Souza 3, McConnell 2.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – Best 1.

Halftime – UCI, 58-21.

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